If you’ve ever had a UTI, you know these bacterial infections are the absolute W-O-R-S-T. Between fighting the urge to pee every four seconds to feeling like you’re peeing actual fire every time you sit down to go, UTIs can really
put a damper on your day ruin your life—at least until the meds kick in.
So it’s great news that scientists have a pretty painless way to build up immunity against the infection that plagues millions of women (and men, too, poor guys!) every year: exercise.
In a study recently published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers set out to see whether exercise, which appears to fend off viral infections, also protects people from bacterial infections including UTIs. These typically occur when bacteria from the large intestine accidentally enters the vagina during sex, through wiping back to front, or even by wearing a thong.
So they compared nearly 19,000 adults’ self-reported activity levels to the kinds of drug prescriptions they filled over the course of one year, looking out for UTI meds, in particular.
Interestingly, people who spent most of their free time sitting on their butts were more likely to fill prescriptions for UTI antibiotics than those who did low to moderate-intensity activities for at least four hours per week. While the researchers didn’t delve into exactly how activity could protect people from UTIs, the results suggest that moving more means suffering from UTIs less often.
While more research is needed, there’s no question as to whether exercise is the lesser of two evils when you’re up against frequent infections, especially since you can likely benefit from moving the bare minimum.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.