While some dudes may think yoga is “for girls,” a new study on the age-old practice might make even the most anti-yoga bro rethink his stance. According to recent findings, yoga is better for your health than we ever thought it was — especially for men with cancer. Not only does it fend off migraines and help you sleep, yoga may also help guys who are suffering from cancer-related erectile dysfunction.
The study, which was conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University, followed 50 men suffering from erectile difficulties caused by prostate cancer while undergoing six to nine weeks of treatment. These men all scored 11 on a 25-point scale that measured ED; anything below 12 on that same scale indicates moderate to severe dysfunction.
During the trial, half of the men were randomly selected and made to partake in twice-weekly yoga classes for 75 minutes at a time; the other half did not take any yoga classes. Time magazine explains that at the end of the study, the men who partook in yoga classes experienced an increase in overall energy, an increased improvement in urinary function and their erectile dysfunction (ED) rating remained stable.
While staying the same on the ED scale may not seem like much of a victory, it is when compared with the experience of the non-yoga cancer patients. Those who abstained from yoga saw an increase in their erectile dysfunction over the course of the treatment period. Yoga for the win!
Dr. Neha Vapiwala, associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the study authors, explains to Time that yoga may be helpful when it comes to sexual performance because it strengthens the yogi’s pelvic floor muscles and increases blood flow.
“Yoga has been shown to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, which may explain why sexual and urinary function were largely preserved in the yoga group,” says Vapiwala. “Yoga, like other types of exercise, can also increase blood flow throughout the body — an important component of muscular and erectile health.”
Vapiwala tells Time that while some men may be scared to participate in yoga because they’re beginners, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. “Don’t count yourself out based on what you think you know about yoga,” she says. “It’s not a performance or a competition, and you don’t have to be standing on your head on day one.”
After all, when it comes to getting your health back, it’s not about going from zero to 100. It’s all about one step (or one pose) at a time.