Exercising for Prostate Health

By

Chris Iliades, MD

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Regular exercise is one of the best ways to take care of your prostate gland. There is a growing amount of research showing that exercise can help you prevent problems like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction (ED).

What Are the Links Between Prostate Health and Exercise?

Doctors have known that regular exercise is good for your general health for a long time, but new studies are showing how exercise directly benefits prostate health. Here are some ways exercise can help:

  • Belly fat–your spare tire or beer belly–is linked to an increased risk for prostate cancer. Exercise combined with a healthy diet can help you cut that risk.

  • A large study based on questionnaires of more than 30,000 men, called the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, found that men who exercised regularly were less likely to suffer from BPH and were 20% less likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED).

  • Exercise has been shown to be a natural antioxidant. Antioxidants are foods or activities that reduce free radicals in the body. Free radicals have been linked to the formation of cancer cells, including prostate cancer.

  • A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that men under age 40 who exercised regularly were less likely to experience sexual dysfunction than men under 40 who did not exercise.

  • A study presented at an American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting found that men with early-stage prostate cancer who did vigorous exercise for at least three hours every week activated more tumor-suppressing genes and more genes involved in repairing DNA than men who exercised less.

What Type of and How Much Exercise for Prostate Health?

At Your Appointment

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Enlarged Prostate

Now that you know how important exercise is for a healthy prostate and a healthy sex life, the question becomes: How much and what type of exercise is best? Here are some tips:

  • Exercise that is good for your heart is good for prostate and sexual health. Follow the American Heart Association recommendation for 30 minutes of an aerobic exercise, like swimming, walking, or biking, on most days of the week. Add in some strength training exercises with exercise machines or weightlifting on alternate days about three times per week. Make sure you check with your doctor first and get some instruction on how to do strength training safely and effectively.

  • To get the cancer-fighting benefits of antioxidant exercise, you need to do some endurance exercises like walking, biking, or swimming. These exercises should be vigorous enough to burn calories and build stamina. Pick an exercise you like so that you will stick with it.

  • A very specific type of exercise you can do for prostate health is called a Kegel exercise. It's especially helpful for men who have BPH symptoms. To do this exercise, you need to squeeze the muscles you would use to hold your urine. Hold the squeeze for a few seconds and then release. Try to do three sets of 10 Kegel exercises every day for better bladder control. Kegel exercises may also be helpful for men with ED.

Key Takeaways

  • A growing amount of evidence shows that exercise is one of the best ways to promote prostate health.

  • Studies link exercise to a reduced risk for prostate cancer, symptoms of BPH, and ED.

  • Try to get in some type of aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week and some strength training about three times per week on alternating days.

  • Pick an exercise that you enjoy and can stick with, but check with your doctor to make sure the exercise level is safe for you. 


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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Aug 10, 2017

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Medical References

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  2. Urinary Incontinence in Men, National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/uimen/);
  3. Exercise may enhance sexual function in men, Emory University (http://news.emory.edu/stories/2012/01/er_exercise_increase_sexual_function_men/campus.html);
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