AGING
October 9, 2000

A Potent Argument for Exercise?

We know that regular exercise can help you stay in shape and lower stress levels, so perhaps it is no surprise that it may be good for your sex life, too.

According to a study by the Boston University School of Medicine and the New England Research Institutes, burning up a mere 200 calories a day — the equivalent of a brisk, two-mile walk — can reduce a man's risk of developing erectile dysfunction (ED), commonly known as impotence.

Published in the August issue of the journal Urology, this is the first study to show that active men are at a lower risk for developing ED than their fellow couch potatoes. Even better, the study also found that there is a strong benefit even for those who begin to exercise late in life.

...[B]urning up a mere 200 calories a day — the equivalent of a brisk, two-mile walk — can reduce a man's risk of developing erectile dysfunction (ED), commonly known as impotence.

The researchers looked at 600 men with no history of ED and followed them for eight years, noting risk factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity and exercise habits. The idea was to find out which, if any, of these factors might make someone more or less likely to develop ED.

Surprisingly, and contrary to earlier findings, the researchers found that "There was no significant difference in risk between men who quit smoking and those who continued to smoke," according to author Irwin Goldstein, M.D., professor of urology at Boston University School of Medicine. The same appeared to be true for the men in the group who stopped drinking.

So, should men who are worried about ED keep drinking and smoking? Certainly not, according to TheDoctor's gerontology expert, Dr. John Morley. "The lack of effect of stopping smoking [in this study] seems to be a statistical aberration," Morley said, "And is very unlikely to be correct; other studies have shown that smoking as few as two cigarettes a day can reduce erectile capacity."

Dr. Morley agreed, however, that it makes a lot of sense for men to keep exercising, to avoid ED, as well for their overall health. "Exercise increases blood flow generally and improves cardiac fitness," he added, "so this may well explain their results."

Reviewed by John E. Morley, M.D.
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