Exercise Directly After A Flu Or COVID-19 Vaccine May Provide Extra Immune Boost: Study

In a follow-up study, the research team is planning to test whether 60 minutes is enough to improve the body's antibody response to a vaccine.

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According to a recent study conducted by the researchers from the Iowa State University it has been found that 90 minutes of mild- to moderate-intensity exercise directly after a flu or coronavirus vaccine shot may provide an extra immune boost to your body. The researchers found that the participants who rode on a stationary bike or took a brisk walk for an hour-and-a-half after getting their COVID-19 vaccine shot generated more antibodies in the following four weeks as compared to those who sat or continued with their daily routine post-immunization.

Similar results were seen in experiments with mice and treadmills, the researchers reported in their paper published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Kinesiology Professor Marian Kohut, the study’s lead author, said that their study is the first to reveal that a specific amount of time can increase the body’s antibody response to these vaccines.

In the study, it was found that while the 90 minutes of exercise post-immunization, the participants who cycled on a stationary bike or took a brisk walk focused on maintaining a pace that kept their heart rate around 120-140 beats per minute rather than distance. Nearly half of them had a BMI in the overweight or obese category.

However, the briefer workout did not surge the participants’ antibody levels. With just 45-minutes of exercising after getting a flu shot or coronavirus shot, the participants could get the same bump in antibodies, as it was found in 90 minutes of exercise. In a follow-up study, the research team is planning to test whether 60 minutes is enough to improve the body’s antibody response to a vaccine.

According to Kohut, there may be multiple reasons. One reason could be that exercise helps increase blood and lymph flow, which in turn helps circulate immune cells around the body and thus increases their chances of detecting something that’s foreign, the Professor explained.

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