Study: Lifestyle and Health Play a Role in Erectile Dysfunction

Nov 02, 2004 11:56 AM EST

A new study has found that physical activity and leanness could help men over 50 prevent erectile dysfunction.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, analyzed data taken from over 43,000 subjects from 53 to 90 years of age regarding erectile function.

30% lower risk for those who exercised

Research showed that, when prostate cancer sufferers were discounted, the incidence of dysfunction was 33% among the subjects. Also, many aspects of sexual function (including overall function, desire, orgasm, and ability) decreased sharply by decade after 50 years of age.

The research indicated that certain lifestyle factors such as exercise or obesity had dramatic effects on results. The study found an inverse association between physical activity and erectile dysfunction. Frequent vigorous exercise (the equivalent of running at least three hours per week or playing singles tennis five hours per week) was associated with a 30% lower risk for erectile dysfunction than was very little or no exercise. Men who had no chronic medical conditions and engaged in healthy behaviors had the lowest prevalence.

The young benefit more

Smoking, alcohol consumption, and television viewing time led to increased prevalence of erectile dysfunction. Use of antidepressant medication and beta-blockers were also significantly associated with erectile dysfunction.

An additional analysis of the relationship between physical activity and erectile dysfunction, stratified by 10-year age groups was conducted. The results showed that younger men (less than 60 years old) benefit more from exercise than older men (over 80 years old.) Negative health behaviors, such as being overweight, watching more than 20 hours of television per week, and smoking are also strongly associated with increased risk for erectile dysfunction in younger men.


1. C.G. Bacon; et al., “Sexual Function in Men Older Than 50 Years of Age: Results from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study,” Annals of Internal Medicine, Vol. 139 No. 3.