COVID-19 has completely changed our lifestyle over the past 2 years. Be it the way we interact with people or the way we work and travel. For some, it has even changed the way of exercise, especially when gyms and other fitness centres were shut due to lockdown.
The availability of the COVID-19 vaccines is helping us get back some sense of normalcy in daily life. For many people, this means going back to the gym or aerobic centres. But with any kind of new treatment, certain questions arise naturally.
Whether you work out at home or in a public space, you might be wondering if it is okay for you to exercise after getting vaccinated. Can you jump right back into your regular workout routine? How much should you work out? What exercises to avoid? We’ve got all the answers for you.
Is it safe to exercise after getting the COVID vaccine?
To date, there’s no evidence to show that exercise in any form, whether prior to or after getting a COVID-19 vaccine would render it less effective.
The short answer most often is: Yes! No research has shown that it’s harmful to exercise after getting vaccinated. The safety considerations depend solely on the body’s reaction to the vaccine.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) lists the following common vaccine side effects:
Most common symptoms:
- dry cough
Less common symptoms:
- aches and pains
- sore throat
- loss of taste or smell
- a rash on the skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes
More than 50% of the people who receive the vaccine experience side effects. Fatigue is the most common. Exercising meanwhile can worsen these side effects. However, there are no greater risks of exercising after the COVID-19 vaccine.
You may or may not experience some side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. But, it is recommended to exercise your arm to help reduce discomfort at the injection site. Exercise after the first injection may not an issue if you experience minimal side effects.
If you experience hives, swelling, or wheezing post-vaccination, then contact a doctor. You should avoid vigorous exercise until you know how your body reacts to the vaccine, especially if you have any sort of respiratory issues.
It is important to know how to manage the discomforts after the vaccine.
Doctors advise people to resort to maximum bed rest post-vaccination. Moreover, staying hydrated and eating nutritious foods heal your symptoms faster. Post-vaccination fever, fatigue and headache can be easily treated with pain-relieving medications.
Will exercising after getting vaccinated make the vaccine less effective?
The level of concern is low. People experiencing more side effects from the vaccines tend to be younger. Many were worried about how long the side effects would last. But in reality, when we talk about mass population, the effects are typically mild and last about a day or so.
In general, it’s hard to predict someone’s response to the vaccine. So far it has been seen that young, healthy people have experienced vigorous immune responses to it. As of now, no evidence suggests that exercising after getting a vaccination for COVID-19 will make the vaccine less effective.
Some evidence shows that people who maintain a healthy lifestyle and do regular exercise seem to have enhanced responses to the vaccines. Their bodies form antibodies much rapidly compared to those who are not as healthy or in good shape. So, there’s some proof that clearly shows that having a good lifestyle and taking care of daily fitness, might boost your immune response to the vaccine.
Listen to your body - Don’t be harsh on yourself
There is no fixed answer to what you should or should not do. As for exercising after getting the vaccine, it is recommended to listen to your body. Is it telling you to take some rest, or maybe it’s saying - let’s scale it back a little and go gentle for a few days? You yourself might feel that after getting a shot, it would be a good day to just rest or do something less strenuous like just taking a walk.
Remember that rest and recovery are part of the effective exercising process, so don’t feel bad about missing a day or two. Hence, it is not a bad thing to have a lighter workout day.
Forcing yourself to exercise while your body is protesting could actually backfire, as that way you are at a higher risk of injury. Also, you won’t be able to perform as much as you usually do. So, if you don’t feel up to it, don’t push yourself.
What types of exercise should I do after the COVID vaccine?
Apparently, there is no specific type of exercise recommended but an exercise, in general, has been shown to be an effective immunity booster and may even increase the effectiveness of the vaccine.
According to a 2021 review, resuming your workout routine post vaccination has shown an increase in the potency of the vaccine by increasing antibody concentration. These results were not specific to COVID-19, but this is surely another benefit of habitual exercise.
In this review, the officials also say that physical activities such as swimming, running, cycling should be avoided for at least one week right after vaccination. Additionally, strenuous exercises such as weight lifting, long jogs, and sports like badminton, basketball must be avoided. Post one week of vaccination, one can resume with easy stretches and other activities.
Relieve Arm Soreness Before Resuming Your Workout!
Most people report that few hours after receiving the shot, they experienced soreness in the arm or tenderness around the area where the jab was done. This is because the vaccine is injected into the deltoid muscle, causing tiny tears in the muscle, leading to inflammation and causing mild pain around the area.
To mitigate this, treat it in the similar way you would when you have a sore muscle. Stretch it out or move your arm in a circular motion. This will effectively improve blood flow to the area so as to bring down the soreness. Find easy exercises to reduce arm pain, here.
Drink plenty of water after receiving the vaccine, especially if you develop a fever. Increased fluid intake is recommended for preventing dehydration. This may be much more important to those whose side effects last longer.
Symptoms should resolve within a few days of receiving the vaccine. If they persist, consult a doctor. Days after your vaccination, if exercise still makes you feel sick, you can decrease your exercise intensity. For instance, opt for a walk instead of running. If you notice breathing difficulties when exercising, hold off on exercise and consult a medical professional.
Using anti-inflammatory medications after vaccination may help you manage symptoms such as fever and help you get back to your old exercise routine more quickly.
Just a quick recap:
- No research has ever suggested increased health risks associated with exercising after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Exercise is just recommended to help manage pain at the injection site and only if your body allows it.
- It may be a good idea to drink more water and take anti-inflammatory medication to relieve the side effects post jab.
- Exercise may be difficult if you have more severe side effects.
- If you have symptoms of an allergic reaction to the vaccine, such as hives, swelling or trouble breathing, contact a doctor and hold off on exercise for quite some time. If the reaction is severe, seek medical attention right away.
- If you feel up to exercising after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, it shouldn’t cause any issues. Exercise will only help you in reducing the risk of infectious disease and improving the potency of vaccines. If you feel well enough, then do it!