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Coronavirus research: Is it good to do sports right after getting vaccinated?: a study concludes that it strengthens immunity

Researchers at Iowa State University in the US found that 90 minutes of mild to moderate intensity exercise directly after a flu or COVID-19 vaccine can provide an additional immune boost.

In a recent study, participants who cycled or walked briskly for an hour and a half after receiving a shot produced more antibodies over the next four weeks compared to participants who remained seated or continued their daily post-immunization routine. . The researchers found similar results when they conducted an experiment with mice and treadmills.

Antibodies are essentially the body’s “search and destroy” line of defense against viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Vaccines help the immune system learn how to identify something foreign and respond by boosting the body’s defenses, including an increase in antibodies. “Our preliminary results are the first to show that a specific amount of time can enhance the body’s antibody response to the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine and two influenza vaccines,” says kinesiology professor Marian Kohut, lead author. from the article published in the ‘Brain, Behavior and Immunity Magazine’.

Exercising increases blood and lymph flow, which helps immune cells circulate

The researchers said the study’s findings could directly benefit people with a variety of fitness levels. Almost half of the participants in the experiment had a BMI in the overweight or obese category. For 90 minutes of exercise, they focused on maintaining a pace that kept their heart rate between 120 and 140 beats per minute rather than distance.

In the study, researchers also tested whether participants could get the same antibody boost with just 45 minutes of exercise. They found that the shorter training did not increase the participants’ antibody levels. Kohut said the research team can evaluate whether 60 minutes is enough to generate a response in a follow-up study.

As for why prolonged exercise of mild to moderate intensity might improve the body’s immune response, Kohut said there may be several reasons. Exercising increases blood and lymph flow, which helps immune cells circulate. As these cells move through the body, they are more likely to detect something foreign.

Data from the mouse experiment also suggested that a type of protein (i.e., interferon alpha) produced during exercise helps generate virus-specific antibodies and T cells. “But much more research is needed to answer the why and how. There are so many changes that take place when we exercise: metabolic, biochemical, neuroendocrine, circulatory. So there are probably a combination of factors that contribute to the antibody response we found in our study,” Kohut says.