We’ve long been proponents of exercise for your physical and mental health. Though there are numerous studies demonstrating the importance of exercise in support of brain health, cardiovascular fitness, and mental wellbeing, two new studies have emerged that demonstrate how physical activity can boost the immune system—and specifically, your vaccine response.
The exercise-immune connection is nothing new in the scientific world. It’s well known that exercise can influence and improve natural immunity and T- and B-cell functions (types of white blood cells that help fight off infections). But, until recently, research on its direct effect on the vaccine response has been limited.
Keeping our immune systems strong is particularly important in the era of Covid-19, especially as we enter the beginning of flu season. And according to scientists from Saarland University in Germany, exercise may give your body the best chance of staying healthy and developing a strong antibody response.
In the first study, scientists compared the efficacy of the flu vaccine in two groups of young adults: athletes and nonathletes. Though blood samples from both groups showed signs of strong cellular immunity, the athletes’ blood had a more pronounced immune response, suggesting that they would be even better protected against future flu infections.
According to the results, frequent physical training led to stronger immunity and a better vaccine response. But what about when you’re not working out every day? The second study showed that the timing of the most recent workout neither improved nor lessened the effects of vaccination—people who’d exercised up to 48 hours before the vaccine had the same effects as those who’d worked out just a few hours before. In other words, the cumulative results of both studies affirm that staying active is likely to increase our protection from a vaccination.
What's more, exercise has also been shown to help with autoimmunity. Whether in the case of over or underactive immune disorders, exercise seems to have a mediator-like power to help get the immune system in balance.
We hear a lot about the ways to naturally support the immune system and reduce oxidative stress, and it’s becoming clear that regular physical activity is a key cornerstone to a natural immune strengthening program.
Did you know we have a podcast? Tune in to hear Vault’s Dr. Myles Spar, Dr. Alex Pastuszak, and CEO Jason Feldman take on some of the more practical, awkward, hilarious, relatable, mind-boggling, and fun questions around men’s health.