LIKE most people, I too, am waiting for the Covid-19 vaccine to come out so we can start living our “new” normal lives! While monitoring the research that’s coming out, we know for certain that vaccines are not made overnight. They have to be thoroughly trialed, tested, peer-reviewed and studied for potential side effects in the long-term. Once approved, the vaccine then has to be manufactured. Imagine making a vaccine for a billion people.
How does exercise fit in this equation?
In a recent study in Germany by scientists from the Saarland University, 45 elite athletes and 25 students that served as a control group were given a flu shot. Blood samples of the subjects were collected a week, two weeks and six months after taking the flu shot.
As expected, when one gets a flu shot, both groups saw an increase in vaccine-reactive cell levels (an immunity response). However, the immunity effect which can be surmised as the efficacy of the vaccination, was more pronounced in the experimental group composed of athletes, especially after the first week where immunity markers peaked. Anti-influenza and immune cells were greater in the athletes compared to the control group showing a more pronounced immune response presuming a better protection against the flu.
The researchers speculate that the athletes’ immune systems have become fine-tuned to the demands of exercise allowing them to respond more effectively to the vaccine.
While this study involved elite athletes, the researchers suggest that even casual exercisers will mount a better vaccine response compared to those who are sedentary. Future research will be performed to confirm this hypothesis.
While waiting for the coronavirus vaccine, let’s start getting fitter, too! As always, consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise regimen, and find ways to exercise outdoors while practicing physical distancing, or better yet, look to exercise in the safety of your own home.