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How to boost protection from influenza vaccine

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
How to make the most out of flu shot protection.

Researchers found people who exercise after getting their influenza vaccine have more antibodies to fight the flu.


If you haven't had your influenza vaccine yet, you may be interested in studies that show how to make the flu shot more effective with exercise. Going for a run, a brisk walk or cycling is shown to boost antibodies that can help fight the flu. There are also other ways to make sure you get the most out of your flu shot protection.

How exercise boosts flu shot protection

For their study researchers gave study participants the influenza vaccine.

One group sat for 90 minutes. Another group went for a 90-minute workout, either a jog or a bicycle ride.

More flu antibodies from exercise

After the workout study participants had twice the amount of flu antibodies as those who sat. They also had higher levels of immune cells as those who sat, supporting the notion that exercise alone is a great way to keep colds, viruses and other infections at bay.

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The study, conducted by Iowa State University researchers and led by Marian Kohut, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology suggests 90-minutes of exercise after getting the flu shot is the optimal amount of time to workout to help fight influenza.

Studies done on mice show exercising for longer than 90 minutes might lower immunity, making the influenza vaccine less effective.

One of the highlights of the study is that researchers know the flu vaccine is only 60 to 80 percent effective. Working out after getting the vaccine means. you'll get a health boost in more ways than one.

Another way to make the influenza vaccine more effective is to lift weights before getting the shot. A UK study found upper body strength training six hours before getting vaccinated; performed to 85 percent of capacity also boosts the effectiveness of the flu shot.

Other ways to get the most out of flu shot immunity

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Getting some sunshine outdoors
  • Eating foods fortified with vitamin D
  • Regular exercise
  • Managing stress
  • Staying happy by socializing with family and friends (the "non-toxic" ones)
  • Taking time for sex even if you do have a headache, which is known to boost immunity
  • Spicing your food with turmeric or taking curcumin capsules that can have anti-viral properties.
  • Practicing yoga that is known to calm inflammation
  • Notify your doctor at first signs of the flu. Tamiflu is known to help shorten the duration of influenza.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after grocery shopping or touching faucets and toilet handles in public places

Exercising before or just after getting the influenza vaccine can boost immunity, combined with other healthy flu-fighting lifestyle interventions.


Image credit:
Wikimedia Commons