Workouts to Get Hard (Literally)
I think it’s safe to say that most guys would be shocked to learn how easy it was to ward off erectile dysfunction. Well, maybe “easy” isn’t the right word. Because I’ll be the first to admit that it just doesn’t get easier than popping a pill.
But I’ve also devoted a fair amount of page time over the last few weeks to talking about why this isn’t a good idea. And to pointing out a couple of particularly compelling reasons to avoid taking this kind of Band-Aid approach with your erections. (In case you missed that conversation, you can go back and read it here.)
Because the truth is, while the cause of your performance problems may be complex — in my experience, there are usually multiple factors at work — the solutions remain incredibly simple. And nine times out of ten, the art of achieving a firm, long-lasting erection every time boils down to plain old common sense.
Case in point: The results of recently published research fresh out of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. This study quizzed a racially diverse group of 295 men, all of whom had been serving as healthy controls for a prostate cancer study that took place at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Researchers categorized the guys according to self-reported activity levels. And they also collected information on self-reported sexual function — accounting for bedroom basics like ability to achieve an erection (including their frequency and quality), orgasms, and overall performance.
And wouldn’t you know? The most active guys also scored highest on sexual performance — while the relative couch potatoes came in last — across the board.
This research appeared in the Journal of Sexual Medicine just this month. And it does quick work of making pretty much all of the salient points that I’ve been hammering home to you since we first met.
1. I have yet to meet a chronic condition that lifestyle medicine can’t cure — or at least significantly improve.
2. Regular exercise is a non-negotiable tenet of men’s health.
3. Penis problems are almost always heart problems in disguise.
With respect to the first and second points, the “prescription” here is crystal clear. Three and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise a week — just a brisk, half-hour walk every day would do the trick — was all it took to keep these guys in the game. And it is no coincidence at all that this is pretty much the same recommendation I give to every man who walks into my office.
In my clinical experience, this is the sweet spot. Less is clinically ineffective (though better than doing nothing, I must add). And too much more? Well that could take you into one-step-forward-two-steps-back territory where your virility is concerned. Because as I’ve also explained before, excessive endurance training will erode your testosterone levels and overload your body with stress hormones.
As always, the magic word is moderation. And it’s worth noting that this study measured activity according to metabolic equivalents, or METS, too. That means that you can distribute this quota any way you choose.
So if you’d rather do two hours a week of high-intensity running? Go for it. Six hours per week of leisurely strolling? Be my guest. It all leads to the same rock-hard erections in the end. So however you want to do your thing, just make sure you do it.
As to the final point — that your heart hides the key to what’s happening in your pants — I’m compelled to remind you once again just how critical this connection is. There’s a reason why regular cardiovascular exercise paves the way to harder erections.
Simply put — you need to take care of the former if you’re going to “take care” of the latter.
I’ve touched on this before. And you may recall that this is exactly why my ED protocol always includes targeted supplementation aimed at heart health — most notably, daily doses of l-citrulline.
This amino acid is the bio-available precursor to l-arginine (which, unlike l-citrulline, your body can’t really use). It boosts nitric oxide (NO) production in your endothelium — and NO is the stuff that lowers your blood pressure and relaxes and widens your blood vessels.
Dilated blood vessels in your penis are a prerequisite for engorgement. So I doubt I need to say much more about that.
But I will add that I also recommend cardiovascular staples like resveratrol and pomegranate extract — to the tune of at least 100 mg and 50 mg per day, respectively — if you’re facing down erectile dysfunction. Among other benefits, these supplements represent the gold standard when it comes to both antioxidant activity and circulatory support.
So if you’re an aging guy, you’ll be doing double due diligence for your body here. Because I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. That dreaded heart attack starts in your pants. Those little blue pills may “work” in one sense — but they also give guys permission to ignore the earliest urgent warning sign you’ll get.
Don’t fall for it. Do yourself a favor and fix the problem — once and for all — instead. There’s just no excuse when the solution can be as simple as getting up off the couch.
Stay tuned and stay well,
Geo Espinosa, N.D., L.Ac, C.N.S., is a renowned naturopathic doctor recognized as an authority in integrative management of male and urological conditions. Dr. Geo is the founder and director of the Integrative Urology Center at New York University Langone Medical Center (NYULMC), a center of excellence in research and integrative treatments for urological conditions.
Simon RM, et al. “The Association of Exercise with Both Erectile and Sexual Function in Black and White Men.” J Sex Med. 2015 Mar 20.