Regular exercise may improve the effectiveness of Covid vaccines

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Regular exercise can magnify the benefits of a post-coronavirus vaccination or booster, even if you schedule an appointment weeks or months from now, according to a new report. study The effects of regular physical activity and vaccinations.

The study, which included nearly 200,000 men and women in South Africa, found that vaccination against the Corona virus effectively prevented severe disease in most of them. But it worked best for people who exercise regularly. They ended up being 25 percent less likely to be hospitalized with coronavirus than sedentary people, even though everyone got the same vaccine.

“I think this study adds to the growing evidence that daily physical activity, along with vaccination, is the single most important thing you can do to prevent severe COVID-19 outcomes,” said Robert Salles, MD, a family and sports medicine physician at Kaiser. Permanente Fontana Medical Center in California and past president of the American College of Sports Medicine. He has researched Covid and exercise but was not involved in the new study.

The study results raise questions, though, about how much — or how little — exercise could better maximize the benefits of the vaccine and whether it’s too late to take advantage of it if you’ve already been fully vaccinated or will soon be.

A large body of research in the past year has shown that activity and physical fitness significantly reduce your risk of serious illness if you contract COVID-19. sales led a studyFor example, of the nearly 50,000 Californians who tested positive for the coronavirus before vaccines were available. Those who walked regularly or exercised before becoming ill were more likely to need treatment in hospital as sedentary people.

Similarly, in August reconsidering From 16 previous studies involving nearly 2 million people, it was concluded that active people were less likely to be infected, hospitalized, or die from the coronavirus than inactive people.

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These links between exercise and protection from the coronavirus make sense, Salles said. We know that “immune function improves with regular physical activity,” he said, as well as lung health and inflammation levels, which can contribute to worsening poor outcomes with coronavirus.

But the studies have not looked at whether active people gain additional benefits from coronavirus vaccines and boosters.

So, for the new study, just published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers in Johannesburg collected anonymous records of nearly 200,000 men and women from the nation’s largest health insurance company.

The records included information about people’s vaccinations, coronavirus results and exercise habits, gleaned from activity trackers and gym visits. Because the health insurance company gave people points and prizes for being active, the subjects in the study tended to accurately score each exercise.

The researchers first extensively compared the vaccinated and unvaccinated people. (The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was the only option available at the time.) As expected, the unvaccinated developed covid and became seriously ill with much greater numbers of vaccines.

Even among those fully vaccinated, exercise made a big difference in COVID-19 outcomes, said John Patricius, professor of clinical medicine and health sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg-Bramfontein, who led the new study.

The vaccinated people who walked or exercised moderately for at least 150 minutes per week were nearly three times less likely to be admitted to hospital if they contracted the virus than those who were vaccinated but were inactive.

In more realistic terms, their vaccines protect them 25 percent better than the same vaccines in sedentary people.

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These people’s exercise habits met or exceeded standard exercise guidelines promoted by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which call for a half hour or so of moderate activity at least five times a week, Patricius said.

But even vaccinated people who moved less, exercising for at least an hour each week, were 1.4 times less likely to be admitted to hospital than the stable and vaccinated group, indicating that their vaccines were 12 percent more effective than those who did not. They did not exercise. .

“Do something important, even if people don’t meet the full guidelines,” Patricius said. It’s an idea we call “Small Steps, Strong Shield”. “

If you can’t walk for 30 minutes today, he said, 10 minutes of walking is better than skipping exercise altogether.

This study was correlative, though, which means it shows links between activity and Covid outcomes. While it doesn’t prove that the activity makes vaccines more effective, Patricius said, the links have been consistent and the effects are significant.

He also believes the relationship will be similar to exercise and other coronavirus vaccines such as the Moderna and Pfizer versions, and in people who don’t live in Johannesburg.

How habitual activity enhances the vaccine response remains somewhat unclear. But Patricius suspects that the strong immune system of the exercisers prompts the formation of additional battalions of antibodies to the virus after each vaccination. Lifestyles may also influence the response, including people’s diet and income.

Perhaps most encouraging was, “I don’t think it’s ever too late” to start working out, he said. Was she inactive? Your hike today should start preparing your immune system to respond more enthusiastically to the next vaccination or exposure to the virus. “Plus, you don’t need a prescription, and it’s free,” he noted.

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