Why Exercising After Getting A Vaccine Is A Good Idea

It's no secret that exercise is good for your health, but it might have more of an impact on your immune system than previously thought. According to a recent study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, exercise may enhance the effectiveness of the flu and COVID-19 vaccines. During the study, researchers from Iowa State University examined the immune response of 70 adults after getting the flu shot or the COVID-19 vaccine and split them into four groups (via Pop Sugar). One group was instructed to exercise for 30 minutes, another for 45 minutes, and the third for 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, the control group was instructed to sit down and rest. Researchers found that while antibody levels increased for all participants, those who exercised for 90 minutes after vaccination had the highest antibody levels. The study's findings suggest that moderate exercise immediately after vaccination may increase the body's immune response, enhancing the effectiveness of the vaccine. However, the extent of this increase appears to be contingent on the amount of time spent exercising.

Why 90 minutes of exercise?

While previous research has confirmed that engaging in moderate exercise after vaccination may help boost your immunity, this is the first study to determine exactly how long you need to work out to gain the highest antibody levels. According to The New York Times, scientists settled on 90 minutes as the maximum target, based on their unpublished research examining the increase of interferon alpha — a substance that initiates the creation of immune cells — in the blood after exercising for that exact amount of time.

After observing participants ride stationary bikes or walk briskly for three different time increments, researchers drew participants' blood two weeks and four weeks after their shots and found that 45 minutes of exercise wasn't enough to significantly increase antibody levels, but 90 minutes of exercise was considered "statistically significant." Since there is a pretty big gap between 45 and 90 minutes of exercise, however, researchers think that 60 minutes of exercise may be enough to amplify immunity, but further research is still needed.