(ORDO NEWS) — A small study by American scientists has shown that simple exercises help improve the antibody response after flu and coronavirus vaccinations, while not exacerbating the side effects of the injection.
Light-to-moderate exercise for 90 minutes immediately after a Covid-19 or influenza vaccination, including H1N1 , helps increase neutralizing antibody titers without increasing side effects, scientists from the University of Iowa (USA) said.
Some previous work has suggested that exercise shortly before immunization results in an improved antibody response to vaccination. One explanation is that exercise acts as an acute stressor that enhances the immune response.
Secondly, they are accompanied by an increase in the level of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), which can influence the antibody response. However, no consistent relationship was observed between IL-6, exercise, and IgG response to vaccination, so the mechanisms explaining this correlation remained unclear.
A team of kinesiologists, immunobiologists, and vaccinologists at the University of Iowa decided to evaluate the effect of simple aerobic exercise after vaccination, not before. They chose the 90-minute workout because it resulted in a significant increase in plasmacytoid dendritic cell production of interferons.
Those, in turn, have a positive effect on the production of antibodies and have a direct stimulating effect on B-cells and T-cells. In addition, the effect of 45 minutes of light-intensity exercise was tested.
The first group included 20 participants vaccinated with a monovalent influenza type A (H1N1) vaccine; in the second – 28 people vaccinated with a trivalent preparation for the prevention of seasonal influenza; in the third – 36 people who received two vaccinations with the mRNA vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus between March and June 2021.
None of the subjects took drugs that would affect the parameters of interest to scientists; they did not have conditions that could alter outcomes, including autoimmune disorders, and were not pregnant.
Participants completed multiple questionnaires, exercised regularly two or more times a week for at least the previous six months, and met criteria for the American College of Sports Medicine.
In all cases, blood samples were collected before vaccination and two and four weeks later. Side effects were recorded every 24 hours for the first three days after vaccination.
People vaccinated against the H1N1 flu were randomly assigned to two groups: the first group did light and moderate intensity exercise for 90 minutes on a bicycle ergometer, and the second was a control group and simply sat.
Those vaccinated against seasonal flu performed exercises for 45 or 90 minutes (young people 18-33 years old), while the elderly (62-87 years old) exercised for 45 minutes. In all cases, training was started 30 minutes after the injection.
In the coronavirus vaccine experiments, participants either did 90 minutes of exercise or went about their daily activities but avoided exercise on the days of the first and second components of the drug. Exercise (walking or jogging) was done outdoors near the vaccination site to reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
“Our data showed that a 90-minute post-immunization workout enhances antibody response four weeks later in several immunization models. Physical exercise did not increase the side effects after vaccination against Covid-19, ”the scientists write. Meanwhile, 45-minute sessions were not enough to enhance the humoral response of the immune system.
According to the researchers, light-to-moderate-intensity exercise, which focuses on maintaining pace rather than distance, may be appropriate for people of all fitness levels: for example, almost half of the participants in this experiment had a body mass index corresponding to overweight or obesity.
An experiment with vaccinated male mice that exercised confirmed that it is IFNα (interferon alpha) that may partially contribute to the positive effect associated with exercise.
Now, scientists continue to monitor the antibody response in participants six months after immunization. They also decided to test how physical activity will affect immunity after revaccination.
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