There’s a Free, Low-Risk Alternative to Viagra, Study Shows

Regular exercise sessions can be as effective as popping Viagra pills when it comes to dealing with erectile dysfunction (ED). According to new research, just three 30 minute sessions per week could be enough to see a difference.

Researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine, Boston Scientific, and Miller Scientific in the US analyzed 11 previous studies covering 1,147 participants in total. The trials these participants took part in were randomized and involved control groups, considered the gold standard in terms of reliability.

Exercise sessions involving aerobic activities such as walking or cycling, undertaken for at least half an hour three times a week, were shown to improve erectile function in all men with ED. The association was found across a range of body weights, and didn’t appear to vary with health conditions or medication use of the participants.

“Exercise is low risk and affordable, making it an ideal first-line treatment option for erectile difficulties, especially for patients unwilling or unable to use medications,” says physiologist Larry Miller from Miller Scientific.

The biggest gains in erectile function were noticed among men with more severe ED, the researchers report. On a standardized scale of 6 to 30, those with severe ED who exercised saw an average 5-point improvement, compared with 2 to 3 points of improvement for mild or moderate ED.

More physical exercise has long been associated with improved erectile function, because of the way it improves blood circulation in the body. Exercise also helps with tackling obesity and lowering blood pressure, both risk factors for ED.

What’s particularly interesting here is that aerobic exercise was shown to have similar positive effects to drugs like Viagra (aka sildenafil) and Cialis (aka tadalafil), and therefore could be used instead of these drugs or alongside them.

Drugs including Viagra and Cialis lead to an average improvement of 4 to 8 points on the scale used by researchers and clinicians. The team behind the new study suggests that exercise should be more regularly prescribed for people with ED.

Not everyone wants to take pills for ED, and some aren’t comfortable with the side effects, which can include heartburn, nausea, and headaches. In contrast, exercising is something that’s free, simple, and accessible.

Erectile dysfunction can happen for numerous reasons as men get olderincluding decreases in testosterone and libido, but scientists continue to find ways to tackle the problem – including synthetic tissue and sound wave therapy.

“This study provides physicians and patients the proof needed to definitively recommend aerobic activity as part of ED management,” says Miller.

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