Let’s be clear – there is no quick fix to immediately ‘boost’ your immunity – no ‘wonder supplement’ or ‘power food’ will suddenly strengthen your immune system. However, living a healthy lifestyle does go a long way to keep your immune system strong. This has been found in a recent study showing that exercise may strengthen the antibody response to vaccination – both the COVID-19 vaccines and the annual flu vaccines.
Another recent study found that if you are physically active, you are up to 50% more likely to have higher antibodies after being vaccinated, compared to someone who is inactive. As this protects you from severe disease, hospitalization drops by around 35%.
Regular exercise results in elevated levels of the antibody immunoglobulin IgA. This antibody coats the mucosal membrane of your lungs and other parts of your body where viruses and bacteria can enter. In addition, physical activity also increases the number of CD4+ T cells responsible for alerting the immune system of an attack, and then helping to regulate its response.
So, if you’re looking for one thing you can do to stay healthy during the anticipated 5th wave, or the annual flu season, look no further than your running shoes. It does seem there isn’t much exercise CAN’T do when it comes to keeping you healthy over the next few months… and beyond!
- Chastin, S.F.M., Abaraogu, U., Bourgois, J.G. et al. Effects of Regular Physical Activity on the Immune System, Vaccination and Risk of Community-Acquired Infectious Disease in the General Population: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med 51, 1673–1686 (2021)
- Justus Hallam, Tyanez Jones, Jessica Alley, Marian L. Kohut,
- Exercise after influenza or COVID-19 vaccination increases serum antibody without an increase in side effects. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, Volume 102, 2022, Pages 1-10