Make Your Flu Shot More Effective… with a Run

sylvar/flickr.com

sylvar/flickr.com

Being active, especially getting cardiovascular exercise like running and walking, may improve your body’s ability to fight off the flu in concert with seasonal flu vaccine.

That’s what the New York Times reported this week, in a Well blog post by Gretchen Reynolds on a report by researchers at Iowa State University on the potential for exercise to give a boost to the immune system and help the body produce more antibodies to the influenza virus.

While past studies had established the effectiveness of exercise in improving overall immune response in people who ran, walked or worked out regularly, the Iowa State researchers wanted to know: would just a single run do the trick?

To find out, they recruited college students to take an hour-and-a-half-long jog or bicycle ride about 15 minutes after receiving a flu shot. To compare results, a separate set of students was asked not to exercise after getting the shot.

Even from just a single session of exercise after the shot, the results were encouraging. As Reynolds notes in her post:

Those volunteers who had exercised after being inoculated, it turned out, exhibited “nearly double the antibody response” of the sedentary group, said Marian Kohut, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State who oversaw the study, which is being prepared for publication. They also had higher blood levels of certain immune system cells that help the body fight off infection.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

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