When we read, watch or listen to reports of the benefits of exercise, they're most frequently in relationship to heart health or weight loss. Of course, most people know that exercise provides some great overall health benefits, too, but that notion is more abstract. The less we know about how exercise helps the body, the less likely we might be to engage in it. Well, if you're among the millions of people currently affected by a urological condition, I've got great news. Regular, consistent physical activity just might help reduce the symptoms of certain urological health issues, including urinary incontinence and erectile problems.
Exercising for Bladder Health
For people experiencing bladder health issues like urinary incontinence or bladder leakage, or for those who simply want to keep their bladder healthy, regular exercise is a great way to accomplish this goal. I know this may sound surprising, especially because many people who have bladder issues experience the symptoms of urinary leakage while they're exercising. However, the key here is to engage in the right types of exercise to both reduce the experience of symptoms and, in some cases, significantly improve the bladder condition itself. In this case, low-impact exercises are best.
Types of low-impact exercise include cycling, yoga and swimming. The goals of exercising for bladder health are to strengthen the abdominal core muscles, elongate the spine and to lift and strengthen the chest. When these goals are accomplished, the result can be a significant reduction in pressure on the bladder and its surrounding muscles, which in turn can help relieve urinary incontinence symptoms. On the other hand, to avoid making bladder symptoms worse, skip exercises that place a significant amount of pressure on the pelvic region. These may include jumping jacks or heavy weight-lifting.
Exercising for Sexual Health
The benefits of aerobic exercise on erectile issues are another area of research interest for urological health professionals and one I believe a number of men can greatly benefit from in terms of improving their sexual health. Most often, when men are facing erectile issues, they're encouraged to perform specific exercises that target the muscles in the pelvic region. These types of exercise are absolutely important, but research has also shown that "total body" aerobic workouts can have a positive impact on erectile function. Because a significant number of men with erectile dysfunction have developed the condition secondarily due to blood flow issues related to cardiac disease, obesity or diabetes (or a combination of these), heart-pumping aerobic exercise can help by promoting weight loss, overall cardiovascular health and blood flow improvements that aren't only limited to the heart. In fact, a brisk walk a few days per week over a consistent period of time can do plenty for a man's cardiovascular, erectile and overall health. No equipment or gym membership required!
Of course, while the benefits of regular, heart-pumping exercise cannot be denied, they can be almost entirely undone by a poor diet. As you engage in a healthier physical fitness lifestyle, consider overhauling your dietary intake as well. Whenever possible, opt for whole, unprocessed (not from a box) foods and a wide range of colorful fruits and vegetables. And since these are the urological organs we're talking about, as the filtration system for your entire body -- they need plenty of water to function properly every day.
As you engage in targeted pelvic options like Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles of your urological system, don't forget to add in good old-fashioned, heart-pumping activities, too. Their total-body benefits don't exclude your urological organs and may just help you totally reverse the conditions you're facing -- or better yet, prevent them from occurring later on down the road. When it comes to your urological health, don't take it lying down. Get up and get moving.
S. Adam Ramin, M.D., is a board-certified urologist and founder and medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angeles. He is a medical staff member at prestigious medical centers such as City of Hope National Medical Center, in Duarte, California, where he has served as Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Department of Urologic Oncology, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he performs robotic laparoscopic prostatectomy.
Dr. Ramin received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1990 from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a double-major in biochemistry and philosophy. He went on to complete postgraduate training with an internship and residencies in general surgery and urology at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California. He performed his fellowship training in urological oncology at the City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, California. Upon completing his extensive medical education and training, Dr. Ramin established his private medical practice in the Los Angeles area.
He became a contributor to U.S. News in 2017, covering a range of prostate cancer, urologic cancer and urological health-related topics. As an expert in prostate cancer and robotic laparoscopic prostatectomy, Dr. Ramin has published numerous textbook chapters, peer-reviewed articles, abstracts and presentations on prostate cancer and urological health subjects. He is certified by the American Board of Urology in Robotic Assisted Urologic Surgery and Urologic and Oncology and Laparoscopic Surgery, and he has trained numerous urologists in techniques of minimally invasive laparoscopy and robotic surgery. Dr. Ramin is a past president of the Los Angeles Urological Society and is a member of numerous professional medical societies including The American Urological Association, American Medical Association and American Society of Laparoscopic Surgeons.
Dr. Ramin is a frequent medical expert contributor to mainstream media publications and news outlets, including local ABC and Fox television affiliates, as well as national online publications such as MSN, Yahoo, Women's Health, Men's Health, Huffington Post and Reuters Health. Visit his website or connect with Dr. Ramin on Facebook or Twitter.