Vigorous exercise can lower the risk of prostate cancer’s advancement, according to a new report from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

Scientist analyzed 20,000 genes in healthy prostate tissue biopsied from several dozen prostate cancer patients. The study results build from 2011 research conducted by UCSF and Harvard School of Public Health, that showed brisk walking or vigorous exercise, like jogging for three or more hours a week, was linked to a lowered risk of prostate cancer progression, and death after diagnosis.

Because the 2011 results didn’t explain why this happens, researchers in the recent study pulled a molecular profile of 184 genes whose expression in the prostate gland is linked to physical activity.

“Vigorous physical activity may provide clinical benefits of men diagnosed with earlier stage prostate cancer progression”, said senior author of the study, June Chan, in a statement.

Results of the research also confirmed 109 genes were “up-regulated”, or more active, and 75 were “down-regulated” or less active, among the men who exercised vigorously for at least three hours a week compared to those who exercised less.

The next phase of the study, according to researchers, is to focus on a larger population of men, and determine if physical activity is beneficial for those men who experienced their cancer returning.