As we age, the prostate can start giving out several problems. Even in young people, this gland can be infected in prostatitis.
Older males usually have a larger prostate gland that interferes with urination. And some of them need to perform regular PSA tests to follow-up and detect prostate cancer.
But with our prostate health, prevention is better than treatment. We should be aware of the risk factors for an enlarged prostate and try to reduce the risk. We can also engage in physical activity, as you will see in this article.
However, is walking good for enlarged prostate issues? Is it helpful to prevent prostate enlargement or treat prostate cancer?
There are only a few studies available to evaluate the answer, but after reading this article, you will get a clear answer to your question.
How does walking help prostate health?
According to studies, walking does help your prostate tissue remain healthier for a longer time. It is also useful to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and reduce the incidence of nocturia and other urinary symptoms.
Similarly, walking and other forms of physical activity can help us recover from prostate cancer. But let us evaluate the influence of walking and physical activity in general in three aspects:
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
- Chronic prostatitis
- Prostate cancer
BPH is a benign prostate enlargement that usually affects aging males. When this walnut-sized gland becomes larger, it constricts the urinary tract and causes urinary symptoms. With an enlarged prostate and its symptoms, the quality of life of patients can be affected.
However, according to a statistical study based on the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, we can do something about it. After analyzing this study, we could see that more active people were less likely to have BPH.
Prostatic hyperplasia was less prevalent in people with moderate-intensity physical activity. But even those with a low-intensity activity saw a slow-down in prostate enlargement. Walking regularly, either briskly or at a moderate pace, was shown to yield significant benefits.
This study included 4,000 men, and they had different levels of physical activity. According to studies, an additional 3-hour walking time every week protected men with a 10% risk reduction. Even if they walk at a moderate pace, they will find a significant benefit (1).
On the other hand, sedentary behavior is also associated with BPH. Men who watch more television have a higher risk of prostatic hyperplasia. That includes videos and any form of screen time. 41 hours of screen time or more every week gives you twice the risk of BPH compared to people who spend 5 hours or less in front of the TV.
Even if you exercise afterward, spending more time in this type of activity leads to more cases of BPH (1).
Management of prostatitis
Bacterial prostatitis sometimes appears after a urinary tract infection. Patients at risk include those who perform unprotected anal sex and those with bacterial urethritis.
This is a bacterial infection of the prostate that causes pain and urinary symptoms. Sometimes it becomes a long-term problem, called chronic prostatitis. When that happens, it causes significant problems and affects the quality of life.
A randomized controlled trial of chronic prostatitis shows significant improvement with exercise. In the study, there were two groups. One of them was the aerobic exercise group and went out for a walk three times a week. The other group performs an aerobic exercise such as stretching, leg lifts, and sit-ups three times a week.
After completing the trial, both groups reported feeling better and reducing the symptoms. However, the patients in the aerobic group felt much better and had less pain. Their levels of depression and anxiety dropped significantly, too (2).
You don’t really need very intense workouts to improve your prostate health. If you want to manage prostatitis, a combination of cardio, circuit training, and weight training can help. What you’re not advised to do is cycling. This type of exercise can sometimes worsen prostate problems.
Actually, it may even worsen secondary symptoms such as erectile dysfunction. The only way to prevent this is by buying a saddle designed for prostate patients. This type of saddle reduces the pressure on the pelvic muscles and the perineum.
A recent study based on the Health Professionals Follow-Up evaluated this matter, too. According to the statistical analysis, people with more physical activity had a lower risk of chronic prostatitis.
The results are the same, but the study is significant because it is more recent and includes data from nearly 21,000 men. It is one of the most comprehensive studies to our date and conveys the same results (3).
Progression of prostate cancer
Nobody wants to undergo cancer treatment because it sometimes feels worse than the disease itself. But even patients diagnosed with prostate cancer do not always need a transurethral resection.
Radical prostatectomy (prostate surgery) is usually reserved for a more aggressive cancer. In these cases, patients usually have severe urinary symptoms such as urinary incontinence and others. They may even need a urinary catheter to drain urine. But even though exercise can’t cure prostate cancer, it may slow down its progression.
One study that included near 1,500 patients yielded promising results for early-stage cancer. By only walking briskly for 3 hours every week, we can have lasting effects on cancer progression.
According to the study, people who walk regularly are 57% less likely to experience cancer progression. Brisk walking for 3 hours is much better than strenuous physical activity for 1 hour. If you do the former, you’ll have a 61% lower risk of death from prostate cancer. However, in the study, only a few patients engaged in strenuous physical activity compared to walking (4).
Walking faster is important if you’re planning to take this approach. Independent of how long you decide to walk if you walk briskly, the improvements will be more significant. In other words, you can walk for a longer time, but the benefits will only start if you walk briskly (4).
You can also perform pelvic floor muscle exercises to improve the urinary symptoms while reducing your risk of cancer progression.
How much should you be walking?
According to the studies above, if you want to prevent prostatic disease or control lower urinary tract symptoms, you don’t need long hours of exercise. In most cases, 3 hours of brisk walking will be enough.
However, the more you’re able to do, the best results you’re expected to have. Just don’t change a brisk pace for a slow walk to complete a longer course.
According to the national and international recommendations, the ideal time is half an hour, 5 days a week. You can even break down the sessions into 2 or 3 segments if you like. Still, the more you do, the more benefits you will have.
Variety is also very important, and if you can combine walking with other aerobic exercises and weight training, you will get much more benefit. Even urinary leakage or urge incontinence may significantly improve.
In any case, we recommend power walks if you have been recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. They can reduce the progression of the disease and improve your urine flow. Three hours a week is the minimum for improvements, but you can adapt this time to your fitness levels and health.
How to walk more?
If you have a prostate disease and decide to walk more, there are a few tips we can give you to increase your walking time:
- Buy a pair of walking shoes: It may sound foolish, but doing so will provide you with inspiration. Also, you won’t have the problem of aching feet after a walking session.
- Consider your equipment: Besides a good pair of shoes, you might want to think about sunscreen or a hat. Also, consider other equipment, including shorts and socks.
- Measure your steps: Measuring your walking activity with a pedometer app can be very helpful. It can be an excellent way to track your progress and motivate yourself.
- Offer yourself to walk out the dog: Of course, this won’t always count as brisk walking. But after the dog has watered the plants, he will be ready for some brisk walking, too.
- Walk instead of driving: We often drive short distances instead of giving ourselves a short walking session. If you’re running errands, ask yourself if you can walk instead of driving.
- Invite a friend: We tend to invite each other for a feast or a movie. But have you considered inviting someone for a walk? It can become a very healthy incentive for both of you.
- Look for new places to walk: Check out for any parks or roads around you. Beaches, a nearby hill or mountain. Sometimes it only takes a bit of adventure, and you will be walking for hours without notice.
- Listen to an audiobook or podcast: If you’re used to being busy, walking can feel time-consuming. But you can learn a lot while walking. Consider listening to a podcast or an audiobook, and the time will fly.
- Buy a stepper for your desk: If you have a lot of office work to do, a stepper can help you achieve your physical activity goal. They can be placed under the desk, and nobody will notice you’re working out your legs.
- Set the alarm: Most of us forget walking altogether, even when we want to build the habit. If that’s your case, just set an alarm and don’t hit the snooze button.
- Join organized walks: There are charity events, and other community walks now and then. Those can be a great idea if you want to start walking and get inspired by others.
Thinking about prostate cancer treatment can make us feel anxious. BPH symptoms and chronic prostatitis can severely affect our quality of life. In severe cases, they cause stress incontinence and other types or urinary problems. They are commonly treated with medications, and sometimes surgery.
However, we can do something before and after the onset of BPH, prostate cancer and prostatitis. Exercise is an excellent option if you want to reduce the incidence of BPH, control the symptoms of prostatitis, and protect your prostate against aggressive cancer.
To obtain the benefits of exercise, the only thing you need to do is walking for three hours a week. This should be a brisk walk as opposed to slow-paced walking. It prevents BPH by 10%. It reduces pain, depression, and anxiety in chronic BPH. And patients diagnosed with prostate cancer have a 57% lower risk of cancer progression.
Walking is definitely an excellent exercise for an enlarged prostate.