COVID-19 has drastically changed our lives in the past 2 years – from the way we interact with other people to the way we work. It even changed the way we exercise: the digital fitness boom has made exercise more accessible than ever.
Nowadays, the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine is helping us regain a bit of normalcy in daily life. For many people, that means going back to the gym or swimming pool. But as with any new treatment, of course, people have questions.
Whether you exercise at home or in a public place, you may be wondering if you can exercise after vaccination, how quickly you can start again, and how much you can do. Below we have the answers for you.
Most of the time, the short answer is yes. No research has shown that it is harmful to exercise after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. The only safety considerations will depend on your body’s response to the vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list the following common vaccine side effects (1):
- Pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
- muscle pain
The CDC actually recommends exercising your arm to reduce injection site discomfort (1).
Exercise after the first injection may not be a big problem if your side effects are minimal.
A 2021 study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that side effects can be more severe after the second injection than after the first. However, there is no mention of a risk from exercise (2).
You may or may not experience some side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. However, research has not identified any risks associated with exercising after vaccination.
About 50% of people who receive the vaccine will experience side effects, usually after the second dose. Fatigue is the most common. Exercise can make these side effects worse (2).
However, there are no real risks involved in exercising after getting the COVID-19 vaccination.
Exercise can make side effects such as tiredness worse. However, exercise after vaccination does not pose any greater risks than exercise before vaccination.
If you have an allergic reaction to the vaccine itself, you should avoid moderate to vigorous physical activity immediately after vaccination.
Common symptoms of an allergic reaction to the vaccine include hives, swelling and wheezing (a sign of breathlessness). These symptoms usually appear within 4 hours of receiving the vaccine (3).
If you experience these symptoms, contact a doctor. However, if the reaction is severe, the CDC recommends calling 911 (1).
If you have a history of asthma or respiratory problems, avoid vigorous aerobic exercise until you know how your body will react to the vaccine.
Additionally, you may want to have all of your management medication on hand when you return to exercise, such as: B. an inhaler, an EpiPen or Benadryl (4).
If you notice hives, swelling, or wheezing after vaccination, see a doctor. You may want to avoid vigorous exercise until you know how your body is reacting to the vaccine, especially if you have respiratory problems.
No specific type of exercise is recommended after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. However, it has been shown that exercise in general is effective in boosting immunity and can even increase the effectiveness of the vaccine.
In a 2021 review of exercise and immunity, researchers found that moderate to vigorous physical activity resulted in a 31% reduced risk of community-acquired disease and a 37% reduced risk of death from infectious diseases (5).
In addition, exercise has been shown to make the vaccine more effective by increasing antibody levels. These results were not specific to COVID-19, but this is another benefit of habitual exercise (5).
The test looked at aerobic exercise (running, cycling, etc.) and strength training individually and in combination. All of them were found to be beneficial (5).
Habitual exercises like aerobics and resistance training have been shown to be beneficial in reducing the risk of community-acquired diseases and can also increase the effectiveness of vaccines.
Drinking more water after vaccination may help, especially if you develop a fever. A 2003 study found that fluid intake may decrease the severity of the immune response in people with dengue fever (6).
If you have had a fever, increased fluid intake is also recommended to prevent dehydration, although this may be more important for people with a higher fever or their side effects (7).
If you feel sick while exercising, consider reducing your exercise intensity. For example, choose to take a walk instead of running.
Side effects or symptoms should go away within a few days of receiving the vaccine. If not, consult a doctor. And if you experience an elevated fever, fatigue, or difficulty breathing while exercising, stop exercising and consult a doctor (1).
The CDC also recommends using over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and antihistamines to help alleviate the side effects of the vaccine (1).
However, this recommendation only applies if these drugs don’t make your other conditions worse (1).
Increasing fluid intake and taking anti-inflammatory drugs after vaccination can help you manage side effects such as a fever and get back to exercise more quickly.
No research has indicated increased health risks associated with exercise following the COVID-19 vaccination. Exercise is recommended to relieve pain at the injection site.
It can also be a good idea to drink more water and take anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the risk of side effects.
Exercise can be difficult when you have more serious side effects. If you have symptoms of an allergic reaction to the vaccine, such as: B. hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing, contact a doctor and stop exercising. If the reaction is severe, see a doctor right away.
If you feel like exercising after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, it shouldn’t cause any problems. Exercise can even be helpful in reducing the risk of infectious diseases and making vaccines more effective. When you feel good enough to move, do it!