Take a walk, not an impotence pill - that's the advice being given by health experts today...
Researchers have found that regular, moderate exercise may prevent impotence. Exercise stimulates blood flow, and what's good for your heart may also be good for overcoming impotence.
One of the primary physiological requirements for an erection is healthy blood flow to the penis; exercise increases the amount and quality of blood flow throughout the body, so it goes without saying that a good heart workout will stimulate blood flow to the genital region.
In fact, impotence can be an early warning sign of coronary disease, since the penis is more sensitive to slow-downs in blood flow than the heart is, researchers have found.
Impotence (or erectile dysfunction) is defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse, and includes the inability to get an erection as a result of sexual stimulation or to lose your erection prior to ejaculation.
Impotence does not generally include other symptoms such as lack of libido, inability to ejaculate or the inability to achieve orgasm.
A long-term research project by the Boston University School of Medicine studied 600 men between the ages of 40 and 70 who began the study with no indications of impotence problems. More than eight years later, 17% of the men had developed impotence.
Exercise proved to be one of the few areas where taking positive action reduced the participant's chances of becoming impotent.
Those participants who smoked, drank heavily or were obese when the study commenced were more likely to report erection problems at its end. Yet men who quit smoking, lost weight and stopped drinking during the course of the study didn't seem to improve their likelihood of having normal erections.
Men who began exercising regularly during the study, or who did so throughout, cut their risk of becoming impotent. Those who burned at least 200 calories a day decreased their risk of impotence by up to 50% compared to men who didn't exercise at all. The effect was greatest for men who got the most vigorous exercise.
Dr Jobe Metts, a urologist at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, said the newest findings "make sense" in light of the importance of general health for avoiding impotence. Exercise, a healthy lifestyle and a good diet have all been shown to reduce the chances of becoming impotent.
"I think it's long been suspected that many of the kinds of common health problems [like obesity, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle] aggravate the risk of impotence," Dr Metts said. "It's a hard thing to prove, but it's been pretty well indirectly shown."
For more information about the causes of impotence, read our Comprehensive Guide to Impotence Causes.
So the most notable conclusion from the research study was that to avoid impotence, exercise is the answer.
The findings were published in the August 2003 issue of the Journal of Urology.
Keeping your body moving will not only make you look better, it will make you feel better. The right kind of exercises can also improve your sex life and enhance erectile function.
Sexual function is affected by your overall fitness level - it's difficult to enjoy an active sex life if you're not in shape. The more muscular stamina you develop, the less likely you are to become fatigued during sexual activity.
Establishing a regular daily regimen of physical activity will maintain suppleness of movement as well as overall flexibility.
All are easy, don't require any special equipment and cost much less than one Viagra pill! Try these in addition to the pelvic Kegel exercises that many doctors recommend.
To increase flexibility and build strength in your lower back and leg muscles - essential for good sexual health - lie on the floor on your back and take 3 deep breaths in and out. (Refer to the diagram above).
Then breathe in and gradually raise your legs off the floor, keeping your lower back flat to the floor. Try to hold for a count of 3, then breathe out while you lower your legs gradually to the floor.
Begin with 3 leg-lifts and gradually increase to about 10 as you gain flexibility and strength.
Another exercise that helps strengthen your back, stomach, legs and arms is to kneel on the floor (as shown in the above diagram). Breathe in slowly and tighten your stomach muscles, roll your head forward and then with your arms and hands clasped behind you, bend backwards and gradually roll your head backwards as your arms stretch out and down as far as possible.
Hold the stretch for a count of 3, then breathe out as you move forward and resume your original position. Don't strain yourself.
Repeat this exercise 2 times and gradually increase to 10 as you gain flexibility of movement.
The last stretching movement increases flexibility to the spine and groin, ultimately enhancing blood flow to the penis. Concentrate on breathing in sync with the movement.
Lie on the floor on your stomach. Lower your pelvis, point your toes and slowly push up with your arms. Keeping your pelvis on the floor, bend your lower back as you gently stretch and look towards the ceiling. (Refer to the diagram below).
Now, curl your toes under, raise your pelvis, and come up into an inverted V position. Keeping your breath in sync with the movement, gradually lower yourself back onto the floor, using your arms as a support.
Repeat this exercise 2 times and gradually increase as you gain strength.
Taking care of the physical aspects of your life is vital if you want to avoid impotence. Exercise enhances your physical as well as emotional wellbeing and is a major factor in having a fulfilling and active sex life.