I received my first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine yesterday. I live in Georgia, and all adults over 16 are now eligible. I still find it remarkable that we have a +90% effective vaccine only one year after everything locked down in my state. Other than soreness in my arm where I received the shot, I feel fine. Later that afternoon, I went for my daily run.
That evening, I wondered what the experts say about running or exercising after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine? I didn’t find anything on the CDC website, so I dug deeper.
The COVID-19 vaccine is formulated differently than the flu vaccine and the vaccines we received as children (rubella, mumps, measles). Most vaccines inject inactive, dead viruses into our bodies to produce an immune response. In a scientific breakthrough, the COVID-19 vaccine is the first approved mRNA vaccine in the United States. Our body routinely used messenger ribonucleic acid (“mRNA”) to create proteins. mRNA carries the instructions for making a protein. The COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine with the instructions for synthesizing the virus’ “spike” protein that is characteristic of all coronaviruses. Once our body makes this “spike” protein, our immune system rapidly develops antibodies for defense. Our body’s reserve of antibodies quickly destroys COVID-19 if exposed to the virus in the future. Science!
As a result of the mRNA vaccine, we can develop COVID-19 antibody protection without ever being exposed to the live virus. Therefore, you can’t “catch” COVID from the vaccine. You are not infected, so you don’t need to rest and recover to fight the virus. Your body is simply ramping up antibody creation in response to a decoy protein. Everything is the same, which makes exercise a possibility.
A 2004 study concluded that exercise increases the effectiveness of vaccines. The research team studied twenty clinical trials with a mixture of people who exercised daily and those that only exercised after receiving the vaccine. Both groups showed an increased immune response to vaccination. The team concluded that exercise improves immune function, and therefore, in the setting of vaccination, it served as an “adjuvant” or enhancement for immune response.
So, is it safe to run after your COVID-19 vaccine. The science would say, yes. But use your common sense. How do you feel after getting vaccinated? If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or tired, take the day off or substitute for a short walk. See how you feel tomorrow and go from there. No matter what, vaccination is a positive step forward to protect you and the community’s health.
Best wishes on chasing your running goals!
Founder & Chief Vitamin Engineer
PEREGRUNE engineers vitamins and supplements exclusively to improve the performance, health, and recovery of runners.
Now matter your age, busyness, or stage of life, now is the time to chase your running goals — set a PR, run a new distance, or get in your best shape.