The aim of the study was to assess whether exercise is associated with better erectile as well as sexual function in black men and define a minimum exercise level for which better erectile/sexual function could occur
When Viagra first appeared on the market, many men with erectile dysfunction found that it could lead back in the pencil. However, Viagra and other drugs for erectile dysfunction are expensive and associated with side-effects such as headache and nasal congestion. Now, a new study has found that exercise can improve erectile dysfunction. The study was published in the March edition of The Journal of Sexual Medicine by researchers at Duke University School of Medicine (Durham, NC) and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles, CA).
The study group comprised 295 men. Their average age was 62 years, and they were all overweight or obese. Approximately one third had diabetes or a history of chest pain or heart attacks. About 75% were current or former smokers. A significant proportion (93) were African-American. The aim of the study was to assess whether exercise is associated with better erectile as well as sexual function in black men and define a minimum exercise level for which better erectile/sexual function could occur.
The men were participants in a study that assessed risk factors for prostate cancer; the study was conducted at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Exercise and erectile/sexual function were both evaluated by self-reported questionnaires. The men were divided into four exercise groups based on metabolic equivalents (MET) hours per week: less than 3 MET (sedentary);,3–8.9 (mildly active) MET; 9–17.9 (moderately active) MET; and more than 18 (highly active) MET. The relationship between exercise and erectile/sexual function was assessed via statistical analysis.
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Erectile/sexual function was defined by the validated Expanded Prostate Cancer Index Composite sexual assessment, which yielded a sexual function score. Clinically significant better function was defined as half a standard deviation (SD) of 16.5 points.
The researchers found that the average sexual function score was 53 (SD = 33). Higher exercise was associated with a better sexual function score. Of significance, there was no interaction between black race and exercise, which meant that more exercise was associated with better erectile/sexual function regardless of race. Overall, exercise at 18 or more MET hours per week predicted better erectile/sexual function with a clinically significant (17.3-point) higher function. Exercise at lower levels was not statistically or clinically associated with erectile/sexual function.
The authors concluded that among a racially diverse population, exercise at a level of 18 or more MET hours per week is significantly associated with better erectile/sexual function regardless of race.