There’s no question that sex sells. All you have to do is turn on the television, flip through a magazine, or peruse the Internet for two minutes and you’ll quickly see what I mean.
Given this, it’s not surprising that a slew of sexual performance medications have hit the market in the past 15 years, starting with that little blue pill. And with everything from smoking, alcohol use, obesity and poor diet affecting sexual function, more and more men are in need of a boost in the bedroom.
But what if you could improve not just erectile function, but sexual desire and overall satisfaction without medication or supplements? What if simply taking the stairs, raking the lawn, or playing tennis could light the spark and keep it burning? According to researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, that’s exactly what exercise can do. 
Don’t Just Sit There…
Previous research has looked at the role exercise plays in middle-aged men with erectile dysfunction, showing improvement of 70 percent. But what about healthy, strapping young men? Would exercise help them?
To answer this question, the university researchers recruited 78 men between the ages of 18 and 40. They took measurements for height, weight and blood pressure. They asked about smoking history and determined if they had diabetes, high blood pressure, previous pelvic trauma, coronary artery or peripheral vascular disease, or if they used beta-blockers.
Next, they asked participants to fill out a physical activity questionnaire. The questionnaire was divided into four categories:
- Climbing stairs
- Light sports
- Vigorous sports
Light sports consisted of things like golf, yard work, hiking and weight lifting. Vigorous sports were swimming, basketball, running, tennis, boxing and cycling.
People who burned less than 1,400 calories a week were considered to be sedentary, while those who burned more than 1,400 calories per week were considered active.
To determine erectile and sexual function, participants filled out a 15-question index that consisted of five areas:
- Erectile function
- Orgasm function
- Sexual desire
- Intercourse satisfaction
- Overall satisfaction
Researchers found that there were higher rates of dysfunction in those that were sedentary versus active:
- Erectile function (44 percent versus 22 percent)
- Orgasm function (44 percent versus 18 percent)
- Sexual desire (52 percent versus 41 percent)
- Intercourse satisfaction (59 percent versus 35 percent)
- Overall satisfaction (63 percent versus 35 percent)
In fact, researchers found that in all five areas of erectile and sexual function those that fell into the sedentary group had dysfunction rates that exceeded 40 percent in all cases.
Researchers concluded that decreased exercise in young men was associated with a higher rate of erectile and sexual dysfunction in all five areas tested. They go on to question if these small differences at a younger age “may portend a further sexual deterioration in sedentary patients over time.” To avoid this, they emphasize the need to live a healthy, active lifestyle.
Once again, exercise is shown to have powerful benefits, regardless of age or medical concern. This study used a mere 20 minutes of exercise a day as their indication of an active lifestyle.
We can all find 20 minutes in our day to improve our health. And you don’t have to try to break world records. You can take a fun group exercise class, play tennis with a friend, or simply take a brisk walk.
Whatever you decide, make it fun, make it consistent, and make it happen. Then hit the showers and hit the bedroom!
 Hsiao, W et al. Exercise is associated with better erectile function in men under 40 as evaluated by the international index of erectile function. J Sex Med. 2011 Dec 6. [Epub ahead of print.]
 Derby, CA et al. Modifiable risk factors and erectile dysfunction: Can lifestyle changes modify risk? Urology. 2000;56:302-6.