Getting active may lead to more action for obese men. A study from Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute and Department of Surgery associated exercise with greater sexual function in men, irrespective of race.
“This study is the first to link the benefits of exercise in relation to improved erectile and sexual function in a racially diverse group of patients,” said senior author Adriana Vidal, PhD, in a press release. Dr. Vidal published her group’s findings in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, under the title “The Association of Exercise with Both Erectile and Sexual Function in Black and White Men.”
Previous reports suggested that erectile function improves with exercise. However, these studies had focused mainly on Caucasian men, and African-American men were underrepresented. In this study of nearly 300 men from Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 32% were black. Participants answered questionnaires to determine their levels of exercise, erectile function, and sexual function. Sexual function was determined by the ability to have erections and orgasms, the quality and frequency of erections, and overall sexual function.
Stratifying participants into groups based on metabolic equivalents (MET), which indicates hours per week for intense exercise, the researchers identified four groups: <3 MET hours/week (sedentary), 3-8.9 MET hours/week (mildly active), 9-17.9 (moderately active), and >18 (highly active). Without a doubt, the groups with the most exercise showed a significantly greater sexual function score. The results were similar no matter if the participant was white or black. Those individuals with the highest level of activity (>18 MET hours/week) scored 17.3 points higher in sexual function; clinically significant was defined as 16.5 points higher.
Among the other factors that influenced sexual function were diabetes, old age, smoking, and coronary artery disease. Participants with these conditions were more likely to have lower sexual function than those without.
Fortunately, for men who wish to change their sexual function status, there are a variety of ways to achieve 18 METS per week. Two hours of running, swimming, or any other intense exercise; 3.5 hours of moderate exercise; or six hours of light exercise will be approximately 18 METS. Combining exercises of different intensities can satisfy the requirements as well.
“When it comes to exercise, there is no one-size-fits-all approach,” said co-author Stephen Freedland, MD, director of the Center for Integrated Research in Cancer and Lifestyle in the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. “However, we are confident that even some degree of exercise, even if less intense, is better than no exercise at all.”