The other day I set out for a wee stroll up the hills, partly because it was a fine day and I wasn't in the office, but mostly because the red wine/beer combination of the night before needed shifting. People walk for all manner of reasons and trying to clear the head after a night on the tiles is as good as any.
As I wandered, feeling the blood circulate and my headache slowly melt away, I wondered if I had stumbled across some magical remedy. Normally hangovers are dealt with by lying in a darkened room swearing never to touch the stuff again but I often find that a bit of brisk exercise works wonders and soon has you licking your lips at the thought of that next cold ale.
Feeling thoroughly refreshed, I resolved to check up on the health benefits of walking. A quick browse on the old world wide web soon confirmed that indulging in our favourite pastime would indeed keep us in rum health by improving breathing and mental sharpness, bolstering the immune system, helping prevent osteoporosis, helping prevent and control diabetes and combating depression.
And then I also discovered that it could also save me a fortune in Viagra in my older years! Yes, apparently a brisk two mile walk each day can reduce men's risk of impotence. The Boston University School of Urology have published the results of a 9-year study involving 600 men which found that those who kept exercising or took up exercising at middle age reduced their risk of impaired sexual performance.
Taking other healthy actions at mid-life such as quitting smoking, losing weight or cutting back on drinking did not reduce the risk of impotence (that's fine then!).
Reading further, I discovered that all this has to do with blood flow, which seems obvious enough if you think about it. Exercise improves blood flow and keeps blood vessels in good shape. Apparently, the penile blood vessels give early warning signs of heart artery disease when impotence shows up due to a slowing-down of the blood flow. Exercise keeps the keeps the blood flowing and prevents impotence in the same way it prevents heart attacks.
The same report contained a grim warning to our mountain biking friends however. Biking is not recommended as it has been shown in some studies to increase the risk of impotence due to blood flow restriction from the bike seat!