Study Shows Exercise Boosts Vaccine Efficacy

There is much to enjoy and look forward to this fall, despite being the third year dealing with COVID-19 amid inflation and high food and gas prices.  Trick or treating is back on, families can travel and gather for the upcoming holidays, and with some advance planning – thanks to boosters and flu shots, the winter doesn’t have to be spent inside baking sourdough.   

COVID cases are expected to surge this fall and winter, along with the flu, and although many people are experiencing coronavirus exhaustion, getting a booster and flu shot can help protect our most vulnerable loved ones.  During busy travel and shopping times, it’s still a good idea to wear a mask indoors in crowded situations with many new COVID variants circulating and be flexible about travel plans if you do become sick.  

New research has also shown that regular exercise helps boost the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccination or booster.  A study involving 200,000 men and women in South Africa found that COVID vaccination effectively prevented severe illness in most participants – but it worked best in people who exercised regularly, according to The Washington Post.   People who exercised regularly were about 25 percent less likely to be hospitalized than sedentary people, even after receiving the same vaccine. 

Staying fit with daily physical activity can substantially lower the risk of becoming seriously ill if you do become infected with the coronavirus.  Getting at least 150 minutes each week of moderated physical activity like walking, cycling or swimming can cut the risk of hospitalization by about half, according to a recent Californian study.  The immune system works better with regular activity, and lung health and inflammation levels are improved, helping to protect against severe COVID illness. 

Even if you don’t meet the 150-minute goal each week, some exercise is still beneficial to help prevent severe illness or hospitalization due to coronavirus.  Just an hour each week can offer benefits, and increasing duration and intensity over time can further boost the protective value of exercise.  Keeping this fact in mind should provide good motivation and encourage the family to enjoy a walk after breakfast or lunch – even 10 minutes is better than nothing!