Exercise after COVID-19 jab produces more antibodies; Study

By Arya M Nair, Intern Reporter
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People who did a 90 minutes of mild- to moderate-intensity exercise after getting a flu shot or COVID-19 jab produced more antibodies in the following four weeks compared to those who sat or continued with their daily routine post-immunization, according to a new study.

Researchers at Iowa State University found that those who cycled on a stationary bike or took a brisk walk for an hour-and-a-half produced more antibodies which are essentially the body’s “search and destroy” line of defense against viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites.

“Our preliminary results are the first to demonstrate a specific amount of time can enhance the body’s antibody response to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and two vaccines for influenza,” said Kinesiology Professor Ms. Marian Kohut, lead author of the paper.

The researchers said that the study’s findings could directly benefit people with a range of fitness levels. Nearly half of the participants in the experiment had a body mass index (BMI) in the overweight or obese category. During 90 minutes of exercise, they focused on maintaining a pace that kept their heart rate around 120-140 beats per minute rather than distance.

The researchers also tested whether participants could get the same bump in antibodies with just 45-minutes of exercising. They found the shorter workout did not increase the participants’ antibody levels. Ms. Kohut said the research team may test whether 60 minutes is enough to generate a response in a follow-up study.

Ms. Kohut also pointed out that working out increases blood and lymph flow, which helps circulate immune cells. As these cells move around the body, they’re more likely to detect something foreign. Data from the mouse experiment also suggested a type of protein, interferon-alpha, produced during exercise helps generate virus-specific antibodies and T- cells.

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