Just Got a Flu Shot? Do This to Boost Immunity!

01/17/2013

Woman-running-320x240Just when you're ready to give up on your resolution to hit the gym a few times a week, we've found a very good reason to keep exercising – it may increase the power of your flu shot!

Simply getting a flu shot doesn't make you resistant to the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting vaccinated means you're 62% less likely to get the flu. Don't like those odds? New research found that getting your heart rate up after you get vaccinated may increase your immunity.

Iowa State University researchers had healthy, young participants geta flu shot, wait 15 minutes, and then ride a bike for 90 minutes, jog for 90 minutes, or sit quietly for the same amount of time. A month later, the researchers measured the levels of influenza antibodies and found that the people in the active group had nearly double the amount of antibodies as the sedentary group. 

To see if 90 minutes was the optimal amount of time, the researchers repeated a similar experiment in mice. After receiving the flu vaccine, the mice were placed into three groups. One group ran for 90 minutes, one ran for 45 minutes, and the last group ran for three hours. It turns out more exercise isn't always better when it comes to boosting immunity, because the 90-minute exercise group showed the most resistance to the flu.

So how does exercise help the flu vaccine?  Though the researchers aren't exactly sure, some speculate that exercise increases blood flow which, in turn, may help the vaccine spread throughout the body.

And even if you haven't gotten a flu shot, sneaking in a workout may also help you stay healthy. Getting your blood pumping may flush bacteria out of your lungs, disperse antibodies and white blood cells throughout your body, and reduce infection-causing stress.

More on the Flu:

The ABC's of the Flu

Should You Get a Flu Shot?

Easy Ways to Stay Flu-Free


The Discovery Fit and Health team brings you the latest (and most interesting) health news as well as exclusive interviews, video clips, and other juicy tidbits from your favorite shows.
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