The Benefits of Exercise on the Efficacy of Flu Vaccinations

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It’s the winter season, which we all know is a difficult time to get your physical activity in amidst the cold and dark days, but here’s a big reason why exercising is beneficial: flu season. The influenza virus, commonly known as the flu, is around throughout the year but it peaks in the winter. This is likely because people are indoors more often and therefore within close quarters to each other for the majority of the day.

Vaccinations have been shown to be effective 70-90% in young adults, but only 17-53% in the elderly. This is known as immunosenescence, where the immune system gradually deteriorates with age. Although it is unclear if consistent exercise improves the immune system in general, there are indications that exercise can improve the adaptive immune system’s response to vaccination and therefore improving the efficacy of the flu vaccine in individuals with sub-optimal responses to the vaccine.

See our previous posts on the Peak Form Physiotherapy Blog for ideas on how to stay active and start exercising: Staying Active During the Holiday Season and How to Start Exercising.

Haaland, D. A., Sabljic, T. F., Baribeau, D. A., Mukovozov, I. M., & Hart, L. E. (2008). Is Regular Exercise a Friend or Foe of the Aging Immune System? A Systematic Review. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 18(6), 539–548.

Pascoe, A. R., Fiatarone Singh, M. A., & Edwards, K. M. (2014). The effects of exercise on vaccination responses: A review of chronic and acute exercise interventions in humans.

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