- Preliminary research shows 90 minutes of exercise done after flu or COVID-19 vaccines may increase antibodies
- Exercise has positive effects on the immune system and many mechanisms may be responsible for the rise in antibodies
Contrary to what experts have said in the past, exercising immediately after your flu or COVID-19 shot may actually boost your immunity. A recent study published in the Journal of Brain, Behavior and Immunity found that active adults who exercised for 90 minutes after the vaccine had an increase in serum antibodies, but no increase in negative side effects after the initial dose of influenza and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
To get the results, lead author and lead researcher Marian Kohut, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, and her team studied groups of participants immediately after their first vaccination. They took blood samples from the COVID-19 group before vaccination, two weeks after the first dose and one week after the second dose. In the flu study, the researchers also took blood samples before the vaccination and two and four weeks after the shot.
For the flu-vaccinated group, researchers asked participants to exercise for 45 minutes, 90 minutes, or not to exercise at all immediately after vaccination. The COVID-19 vaccinated group exercised for 90 minutes or not at all.
Based on blood samples, researchers found that 90 minutes of outdoor exercise consistently raised serum antibodies (a key component of your immune system that prevents you from getting sick with these diseases) for up to four weeks. after vaccination.
The majority of participants (78 in total) completed the workout (run or walk) at 60-70% of its maximum heartbeat, which was also correlated with heart rates of around 120 to 140 beats per minute. “Based on the data we have, it appears that as long as individuals are within 60-70% of the age-based maximum heart rate estimate, we see the same benefit. [of increased antibodies]Kohut says.
The researchers also asked participants to record their Side effects for three days after the vaccines, and there was no difference in results between athletes and non-athletes.
Time and effort count, not distance
Study participants who exercised for 45 minutes after the vaccine did not see an increase in antibodies after two and four weeks – these benefits were only seen in those who exercised. exercise for 90 minutes.
And the researchers found no significant correlation between distance covered and the antibody response in those who exercised for 90 minutes. the distance traveled ranged from four to 10 miles, so no matter how far someone walked (or walked), as long as they hit the 90-minute mark, they still experienced a spike in serum antibodies. According to the study, the 45-minute workout was not enough to increase antibody production.
“Our finding that a single post-vaccination exercise session could have a significant impact on the antibody response to the vaccine was very interesting, and people with a wide range of fitness levels (all regular exercisers) been able to complete the 90 minutes of exercise,” says Kohut.
Although the study was small – 42 participants were enrolled in the flu study and 36 in the COVID-19 study – the researchers believe this is a strong case for sweating after your injection . “Based on the evidence we have to date, sticking to 90 minutes of light-to-moderate intensity exercise beginning soon after vaccination appears to be effective across different vaccine platforms,” Kohut says.
One thing to remember if you plan to train after your injection: if you have a fever, dizziness or in general don’t feel good, do not force yourself to start or continue exercising. Listen to your body and rest when you need it.
Why does the increase in antibodies occur after exercise?
A few processes may be at work that affect the immune exercise response. “It’s unlikely that there’s a single mechanism responsible for the rise in antibodies,” Kohut says. “Exercise for 90 minutes is associated with metabolic, neuroendocrine, and circulatory changes, each of which may contribute to an impaired immune response.” In other words, it seems that many changes occur in the systems that control metabolism, hormones, and blood flow during 90 minutes of exercise.
She adds: “With this understanding, we can learn how to improve the effectiveness of vaccines, define the parameters of exercise that are necessary to improve the immune response and know if other types of health practices (yoga, meditationmassage, for example) could have similar benefits.
Previous research also helps explain how running supports the immune system in the short and long term. For example, it encourages a healthy anti-inflammatory environment and increases the number of infection-fighting immune cells in the blood. And because of these immune system responses to exercise, older search published in 2014 also supports the idea that those who lead active lives may respond better to vaccines.
More research is still needed
Kohut and her team tested participants for up to four weeks after vaccination, but she acknowledges the need to understand the long-term benefits of exercise on vaccine effectiveness.
It’s still unclear if the antibody boost will last for six months (the currently recommended time frame to get your booster). “It would be interesting to understand how the increase in antibodies extends to actual protection, although these types of studies usually require quite a large number of participants,” says Kohut. “While one might assume that the higher level of antibodies would translate to better vaccine efficacy in preventing infection, this remains to be determined. Ongoing studies by many researchers are trying to define the optimal level of antibodies that results in protection.
Finally, Kohut warns that study participants exercised regularly before the study, and it is not yet clear whether the same benefit of increased antibodies would apply to non-exercises. Post-vaccine exercise could potentially pose safety risks for those who lead sedentary lifestyles.
When asked if exercise alone can improve protection against infection without a vaccine, Kohut says, “It’s important to understand that the immune system needs to ‘see’ the components of the virus to create immune memory (the memory consists of antibodies, B cells that make antibodies, and T cells). Exercise alone cannot create this immune memory.
While this research doesn’t 100% confirm that you should time a 90-minute run right after getting your flu or COVID-19 shot, it does offer more evidence to support lacing and curving to improve your health. .
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