Exercise to Protect the Prostate
What can you do to keep your prostate healthy? Fitness is key.
Exercise can help you reach and maintain an ideal body weight. That, in turn, will help boost your prostate health, says Marc Garnick, MD, a prostate specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
Keeping extra pounds off will “help minimize and reverse lower urinary tract symptoms [linked to an enlarged prostate] and will lower your prostate cancer risk,” he says. “In general, anything that is heart-healthy is prostate-healthy.”
Garnick recommends aiming for a routine that has a mix of circuit training, cardio, stretching, and weight training.
Setting aside time for workouts isn’t the only way to protect your prostate. More physical movement in general in your everyday life is also a boon to your health.
A recent study found that men with physically demanding jobs were less likely to develop benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlargement of the prostate) than men with desk jobs. Men who found time for 5 or more hours of exercise a week (just under an hour a day), whether job-related or for fun, were 30% to 50% less likely to develop BPH than those who exercised fewer than 2 hours a week.
Another study from Harvard shows that physically active men are less likely than inactive men to have BPH. Even low- to moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking regularly at a moderate pace, delivers big benefits.
“There is ample evidence that general physical activity helps overall body health. Combine this with a well-balanced diet without an excess of animal fats, and the health impact will be positive,” says Mayo Clinic urologist Lance Mynderse, MD.
A word of warning if your choice of exercise is cycling: Garnick says bicycle riding may worsen some prostate-related conditions.
You don’t want undue pressure on the groin if you have BPH, erectile dysfunction, or prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate), says Garnick. “Bike riding is 180 to 200 pounds sitting on [that] little gland.”
If you are a cycling fan, get a prostate-friendly saddle, which is designed with a gap to remove pressure on the perineum (the space between the opening of the rectum and the scrotum).
You may think Kegels are just for women. But these exercises, which strengthen the muscles in your pelvic region, can help control incontinence in men who have the condition from surgery to treat prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate.
To do a Kegel exercise, clench your bladder like you’re trying to stop the flow of urine and hold for 5 seconds. Work up to two to three sets of 10 to 20 Kegels per day.