Iowa State University researchers are studying an apparent link between exercise and the flu shot.
Marian Kohut, an ISU professor of kinesiology, says they’re trying to determine if people who do moderate exercise right after they get the flu vaccine can boost immunity.
“We collected blood before the vaccine to look at a pre-vaccination measure as well as post-vaccination, and at four week’s post, which is a time we typically see more peak antibodies in response to the vaccine,” Kohut says. “The exercise subjects had almost twice the antibodies levels as we saw in our non-exercisers.”
While that’s encouraging, she says the findings are inconclusive.
“We don’t know if this holds true for all populations including older adults for which the vaccine may not have as robust of a response as in young adults and we don’t know if it’s better to exercise before the shot or after the shot,” Kohut says. “Those are some of the questions we’re trying to address.”
She says the experiment was conducted with a small group of college students and she’s interested in learning what effect the same test would have with older adults.
Kohut says they are also repeating the test on lab mice and so far, those who exercised on a running wheel had high antibody levels in their blood right after receiving the shot and again four weeks later.
The research is part of a five-year project partially funded by the National Institutes of Health.