3 ways to improve ED you might only hear in THIS doctor’s office – PART 2 (make sure to check out next week’s blog to get the full picture!)
Yes I said ED as in “erectile dysfunction” and based on the number of Viagra and Cialis commercial's these days (not just during the Jerry Springer show…we’re talking PRIME TIME) I know I’ve got your attention so let’s get right down to business.
Way #2: exercise regularly.
Now I'm sure very few of you are completely surprised that's my second piece of advice (and not just because I know that sometimes I sound like a broken record) but these days you don’t have to be a Personal Trainer to know there’s literally GOBS of hard science pointing directly to the relationship between regular exercise and pretty much all aspects of improved health.
But I know you want to know more about the relationship between regular exercise and ED specifically so here’s the bottom line: regular exercise improves blood flow while decreasing symptoms or risk for almost all contributing factors for ED.
But you probably already guessed that’s where I was going, right? Let me ask you a question though: exactly what type of exercise do you think is the BEST for improved blood flow?
Cardio, right? (I mean after all, they call it “cardio” because it improves cardiovascular function, right?)
Maybe. According to the Mayo Clinic, during aerobic exercise you breathe faster and more deeply. This maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood and as your heart begins to beat faster, the increased blood flow causes your small blood vessels (or capillaries) to widen and deliver more blood and oxygen to every little corner of your body. FYI your body also releases endorphins (that magic little neurotransmitter that increases your sense of well-being but I don’t really want to go too far down that road till next week…STAY TUNED!!!) You’ll also keep your entire vascular system clearer by boosting high-density lipoprotein (HDL or the "good" cholesterol), and lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL or the "bad" cholesterol) which results in less arterial plaque buildup (which can be a contributing factor of ED.) And potentially most importantly of all, regular cardiovascular exercise lowers your risk of many conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, stroke, and obesity (ALL OF WHICH, of course, are not only contributing factors for ED but certainly don’t make for the most active and enjoyable sex life possible, right?)
But hold on now…don’t go off half-cocked (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) and miss the big picture by thinking increased cardio is ALL you need!
In 2000 the American Heart Association reversed its position that only cardiovascular exercise was beneficial to people with heart disease saying that that moderate strength or resistance training also has significant cardiovascular benefits (read more: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20070716/weight-training-for-heart-disease#1) So in other words, strength or resistance training basically enhances the benefits of aerobic fitness.
Here’s a list of just a few benefits of regular strength or resistance training:
- Increased lean muscle mass (which usually leads to loss of bodyfat and excess weight…although not ALL guys with ED are big guys, excess bodyfat is definitely a typical contributing factor)
- Increased insulin sensitivity (BTW insulin INsensitivity almost always leads to type 2 diabetes which is definitely a risk factor for ED for lots of reasons)
- Increased aerobic endurance (textbook definition: increased cardiovascular ability to continuously transport oxygen throughout the body for extended periods of time…how does this occur, you ask? Because the small blood vessels or capillaries are able to open wider and stay open longer in order to deliver more blood and oxygen to every little corner of your body.)
All that being said, did you know that all you really need for a good workout is a water bottle, maybe a chair or a stretchy band, and (of course!) your body because the human body can actually only execute seven basic movement patterns: squat, lunge, push, pull, bend, twist & gait.
But think about what I just said for a minute: these “Pillars of Human Movement” really aren’t rocket science…they translate to all kinds of REAL LIFE activities like picking up something heavy, putting something heavy up on a shelf, running up the stairs because you forgot something on the way out the door, right? Turns out that gym workouts are often irrelevant for most people because most gym machines were actually designed to rehab injured muscles so they can’t train you for real-life activities. (PLUS THEY CAN BE BORING…remember the only exercise anyone will ever do is what they like!) That’s why I’m a HUGE advocate of functional fitness using bodyweight-only exercise (because no matter where you go you always have your body, right?)
So let’s say you want to learn more about FUNctional fitness (did you see what I did there? YES MY CLASSES ARE FUN!!!) but you’re not sure how. I have 3 suggestions for you:
- Attend my Foundations of Functional Fitness Workshop on March 19th at the Claymont Fire Company.
- Hire a Personal Trainer who’s skilled in working the body holistically, firing up complete muscle groups in a sequential pattern (in other words, ME!!!)
- Check out the RESOURCES tab on my website for more info on some of the most influential experts in the field of integrative, functional fitness today
And here are some additional tips to help you reach your fitness goals:
- Never workout when you’re not well rested (aim for 6½-9 hours of sleep each night)
- Drink plenty of water (aim for 100 ounces a day)
- EAT MORE VEGGIES (and attend my Smoothie 101 or Paleo Made Practical workshops if you’re not sure how to fit the recommended 9-13 servings of fresh produce into your life EVERY day! But hurry…time to sign up for the next classes is running out!)
- Practice relaxation/meditation techniques or, better yet, T’ai Chi Chih (tune in next week for more info specifically on T’ai Chi Chih in relationship to ED!!!)
- Always foam roll and do a dynamic stretches before working out…save static stretches for after
- Aim to perform strength or resistance training for 20-60 minutes 2-3 days a week (but never on consecutive days!)
- And aim to perform 20-60 minutes of aerobic activity (any rhythmic, sustained activity causing a temporary increase in heart rate like brisk walking, running, biking, swimming, jumping rope, or stair climbing) 3-7 days a week (yes I know…one of these days I’m gonna have to weigh in on the value of HIIT and Tabata training as opposed to steady-state cardio but that’s an entirely different conversation. Let’s save that one for later, OK?)
So ditch the machines and the gym membership AND GET FUNCTIONAL…your health, your sex life (and even your honey!) will thank you for it!
And if you're really interested in kissing Viagra goodbye once and for all (while improving all other aspects of your health at the same time!) don't forget to tune back in next week for the 3rd and final piece of the puzzle.
For info on some of the DOWNRIGHT AWFUL side effects of Viagra click here
Jessica Lewis, CPT, CNC
HCC Lifestyle Coach