If you are a few pounds—or more than a few pounds—overweight and have been diagnosed with erectile dysfunction, one of the first things your doctor will probably advise you to do is to lose some weight. Research shows a strong connection between obesity and erectile dysfunction—in fact, obesity nearly doubles your risk. But studies also show that losing weight can reverse sexual dysfunction for many men. Why those extra pounds matter Obesity is a risk factor for a number of health conditions that can cause or exacerbate ED, such as type 2 diabetes. Carrying around a lot of extra weight can make your body more resistant to insulin, which can lead to the development of diabetes. And research suggests that more than half of men in the United States who have diabetes also struggle with ED. Additionally, when you pack on the pounds, you are putting more stress on your cardiovascular system. Your heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout your body, and your chances of developing high blood pressure increase. In fact, your overall risk of developing coronary artery disease increases. Anything that affects your vascular system can have an effect on your ability to sustain an erection, since it can affect blood flow into and out of the penis. Also, obesity causes a chronic state called oxidative stress in your body, which develops from an imbalance between free radicals, which can harm your body’s tissues, and antioxidants that can fight them off. Losing weight helps obese men reduce that stress, which frees up more of a natural chemical in your body called nitric oxide. The nitric oxide helps relax certain muscles in the penis, allowing blood to flow in and create an erection. Eat better, move more Eating less and moving more are key components to most weight loss plans. You have to find the right balance between the calories you consume and the calories you burn. For most of us, that means cutting down on what we eat. But you want to eat the right kind of food, too. A healthy diet includes whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein, as well as lots of fruits and vegetables. Loading up your plate with fruits and veggies will give you a significant boost of antioxidants like vitamins C and E, which can reduce oxidative stress. They’re also high in fiber, which can keep you feeling full longer and thus less likely to snack and consume more calories. It’s not enough to just eat healthy, though. You have to incorporate regular physical activity into your schedule. Getting moving will help you lose weight while also increasing blood flow throughout your body. You may be familiar with the recommendation to log 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week—and that’s good advice for improving your overall health. But if you want to lose weight and keep it off, you’ll need even more activity on a regular basis. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, 200-300 minutes—or even more, in some circumstances—of physical activity should be your goal every week. Moderate activity could include walking briskly, casual biking, and even raking leaves. If you’re ready for more vigorous activity, take those activities up a few notches, or jog, swim laps, cross country ski or jump rope. If you’re currently sedentary, check with your healthcare provider before starting an ambitious new exercise plan. You will need to start slow and build up.