While studies have found that people who work out regularly generally have increased immune response from vaccines, this may not be true of the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, some experts caution that working out before getting your COVID-19 vaccine may increase the risk of having an allergic reaction to the drug. Like alcohol, exercise increases blood flow, which could potentially raise your chances of having a rare but serious anaphylactic reaction.
According to POPSUGAR, studies of elite athletes found that they had a higher evidence of antibody and immune cell levels after having a flu shot than other healthy young people. Runners, swimmers, and wrestlers as well as cyclists and other athletes had an amplified immune response to the flu vaccine, says The New York Times. In general, research supports the idea that regular exercise boosts immunity. Studies indicate that even if you exercise your arm before getting the flu shot, you get a better immune response.
But these findings may not hold true for COVID-19, according to POPSUGAR. Exercise does not have enhancing benefits for all injected medications. In fact, people who get allergy shots are advised not to work out intensely two to three hours before the jab, says Dr. Sofija Voltertas, an allergist, immunologist, and assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
According to the Miami Herald, some studies have shown that breaking a sweat around the time of your vaccination can improve the immune response to the drug. But overdoing it can also hurt more than help depending upon your reaction to any of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently available.
''The most important thing to understand is that if you are showing signs or symptoms of being sick, this is your body working overtime to make you well again,'' said Damien Evans, a certified personal trainer in Southern California. ''What many people forget is that exercise is a positive stress on the body when you are healthy. However, if your body is under large amounts of stress already — in this case the immune system is working hard and firing on all cylinders as it processes the vaccine—then throwing extra stress through exercise could do more harm than good.''
Dr. Purvi Parikh, an immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network, said that working out before getting the COVID-19 shot is generally okay, but doing so after the fact might aggravate any adverse reaction.
She further suggests not working out for at least a day after the vaccine, or until any of the side effects, which could include injection site pain, fever, fatigue, muscle soreness and joint pain, disappear. Exercise increases your blood flow which can trigger inflammation in the body and add to the discomfort.
''Exercise should be avoided after the vaccine and can resume when feeling back to normal the next day or the day after,'' said Parikh.
Some experts advise against vigorous exercise prior to the vaccine as well. Dr. Blanka Kaplan, an allergy and immunology specialist from Great Neck, New York, told WebMD, that until there is more data on the effect of exercise before getting the shot, she recommends avoiding strenuous workouts two hours before and after vaccination.
The Centers for Disease Control’s only recommendation on the topic is to exercise your arm to help reduce the pain and swelling after the shot. Elizabeth Shaw, M.S., a Southern California-based expert on health and nutrition, told Verywell Fit that while you can work out after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, you may not feel like it.
''It’s very important that individuals use common sense and assess how their body feels in the immediate hours and days after receiving the shot,'' she said.
© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.