If you thought it was better to take it easy after getting your vaccine, you may want to think again. In a new study published by Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, researchers found that up to 90 minutes of mild-to-moderate exercise soon after receiving a vaccine could provide you with additional immunity.
The study, conducted by Iowa State University, found that participants who went for a power walk or pedaled on a stationary bike for 90 minutes after they received their first dose of influenza vaccine developed more antibodies in the following four weeks than participants who just went about their normal routine. The study observed the results using two different influenza vaccines, and those participants selected to exercise were classified as overweight to obese on the BMI scale.
Why does exercise boost immunity?
While having some intuitive sense to it, with exercise generally improving health, the Iowa State study stated the reasons for this antibody boost “remain to be elucidated.” Although there are multiple possibilities, one explanation may be that an increase in blood flow from exercise better circulates immune cells around the body, more quickly locating antigens, and creating a specific immune response more quickly.
Marian L. Kohut, co-author of the study, stated however that the reasons could range from “metabolic, biochemical, neuroendocrine, [or] circulatory” causes. So, while these findings are promising, more research is required to fully understand the link between increased vaccine response and exercise.
Are there increased side-effects?
Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that the study found that there were no increased side-effects in the participants that exercised after they received either of the two flu vaccines. The bad news is that they had to exercise to gain the benefit of boosted immunity.
Source study: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity — Exercise after influenza or COVID-19 vaccination increases serum antibody without an increase in side effects