Improving your fitness through activities such as walking and swimming as well as some simple exercises can not only help reduce your risk of developing BPH but can also help to manage the symptoms and reduce their severity.
Before you moan and groan, becoming more active isn’t about slogging it out every day for hours in the gym or even running marathons…it’s about identifying a fitness plan which suits you, your age and your lifestyle, whilst getting you moving more.
Over the years there have been several studies which have shown the positive impact exercise can have on prostate health. One such study found that men who exercised five or more hours a week were 30 to 50 percent less likely to develop BPH than men who performed exercise less than two hours a week.
Another study carried out by University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, found that men who engaged in moderate or vigorous exercise experienced up to a 25 percent reduced risk of BPH and lower urinary tract symptoms when compared to those with a sedentary lifestyle.
So how can exercise help?
As I have mentioned in a previous blog, the more inflammation present in your body generally, the more likely you are to have inflammation in the prostate, so finding ways of reducing this inflammation is key to managing your BPH symptoms.
Research has shown that exercise is a good way to reduce the inflammatory response in the body and aerobic and resistance exercises are great when it comes to anti-inflammatory effects.
Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which also decreases the inflammation response in your body. Obesity is a know factor for increasing the risk of developing BPH so a healthy weight is vital for the health of your prostate.
Here are several exercises that are good for you and your prostate’s health:
- Walking (walk the dog, get off the bus a few stops earlier, leave the car at home – simple things can make a big difference)
- Hiking (take your walk to the next level)
- Cycling (use a prostate-friendly seat – one that is wide with lots of padding or gel-filled)
- Swimming (breaststroke, butterfly, front crawl – get your trunks on and give it a try)
- Jogging/running (a gentle pace is best, intensive running may become too jarring on your prostate)
- Golfing (tee off and enjoy a round of golf)
- Tennis (dust off your racket and get back on the court)
Tip: If you have a garden, get stuck in there. Becoming active in the garden can count towards your weekly activity so why not rake some leaves, cut the grass and tackle those weeds. Another good tip is to find activities that you enjoy! It’s important to choose something you are enthusiastic about so you are more likely to stick with it.
Kegel pelvic floor exercises aren’t just for women! As men age, the muscles around the bladder can become weaker and this may contribute to some of the symptoms such as the need to urinate often. These may be especially helpful in men who have had prostate surgery which can sometimes have an impact on bladder control.
So what are Kegel exercises?
Kegel exercises are a type of exercise which involves the tightening and clenching of specific pelvic muscles, known as the external sphincter muscles. Once you have learnt how to do them, Kegel exercises can be done discreetly and regularly throughout the day. You can do them anywhere, anytime whether you’re sitting or standing at work, relaxing at home or even whilst driving your car.
How much exercise is enough?
Unfortunately there is no easy answer here. The NHS recommends at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minute) of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, as well as muscle strengthening exercising on two or more days a week for adults between the ages of 19 and 64, as well as those older who are generally fit and have no health condition that limit their mobility.
However over the years many studies have explored the optimum exercise time with some suggesting that less than one hour of moderate exercise a week or 20 minutes of vigorous activity is enough to keep you healthy.
Whatever the answer is the key thing for you to consider is what’s right for you, your lifestyle and your health. As one physician said “any amount of exercise more than nothing is good”.
Exercise some caution
Choosing the right activity for you and your prostate is important. Avoid those that cause excessive jarring or pounding. Some exercises which involve sitting for long periods such as cycling (without a padded saddle), rowing or horseback riding can put pressure on the pelvic area and may also put added pressure on your enlarged prostate.
Ultimately, maintaining a healthy diet and staying active can improve a man’s general health, especially as he gets older. An additional benefit is that it may also help reduce the risk of BPH or the severity of its symptoms, so it really is time to start taking care of yourself and improving your fitness.
How do you keep fit and active? Are there any exercises you have had to give up because of your enlarged prostate?
Meet our expert
Having trained as a doctor at the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne, Jen Tan, Medical Director of A.Vogel, has been involved in herbal medicine research over a number of years, coordinating projects both within the UK and internationally.