Exercise Prolongs Men's Sex Lives

Regular Exercise Can Help Prevent Impotence

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on August 22, 2003

Aug. 22, 2003 -- Here's one more reason to exercise -- and believe it or not, it's not heart related. Researchers say exercise may add years to a man's sex life and lower chances of impotenceimpotence.

The study showed that men over age 50 who kept physically active had a 30% lower risk of impotence than men who were inactive. As men age, the chance of impotence increases, but the research shows that exercise can keep a man going significantly longer. The findings appear in the August issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

Impotence Affects 20 Million Americans

Studies show that impotence, also called erectile dysfunctionerectile dysfunction, is far reaching; it affects as many as 20 million American men. By age 60 nearly half of all men will have had at least one brush with impotence, researchers say. For decades, worsening sexual function has been accepted as a natural part of agingaging, but researchers for this study write they may have proof this doesn't have to be the case.

To test their theory, researchers surveyed more than 31,000 men between the ages of 53 and 90. Volunteers rated their ability in the previous three months, without treatment, to have and maintain an erection adequate for sex. Researchers also analyzed other measures of sexual function and looked at the men's lifestyle habits.

Fitter Men Have Better Erections

Results showed that men who were physically active reported better erections: The fitter the man, the better the erection. Frequent, vigorous exercise, the equivalent of running at least three hours a week or playing singles tennis five hours per week, produced the most benefit -- with a 30% lower risk of impotence.

Findings also showed that men less than 60 years old benefited most from exercise. But bad lifestyle habits such as being overweight, watching more than 20 hours of television a week, and smoking offset the benefits of being young.

Researchers write that they hope men will get an important message: Sexual activity can stay strong for years through healthy living. Impotence doesn't have to be a "normal" part of aging.

SOURCE: Bacon, C. Annals of Internal Medicine, August 2003; vol 139: pp 161-168.