After getting any kind of shot at the doctor’s office, normally all I want to do is cry about it, massage my tender shoulder, and anxiously Google the side effects. More recently, though, I’ve been trying to stop worrying about things that are out of my control, so I decided to go to yoga after I got my flu shot. Mid-downward dog, however, I began to wonder if it’s actually a good idea to exercise after a flu shot, or if I should let my body rest after the fact.
Thankfully, I made it through the rest of that yoga class feeling OK, but I couldn’t shake the concern about my flu shot and how exercise might affect my body. So, I reached out to Dr. Edo Paz, the vice president of medical at K Health and the clinical director at Heartbeat Health, to get some answers. "It’s typically safe to exercise after receiving a flu shot," Paz tells Elite Daily. "In fact, some studies have indicated that exercising after a flu shot may improve your body’s response to the vaccine by activating the immune system."
According to Paz, exercise may also limit some of the unpleasant side effects of the flu vaccine. The idea is that moving your body, in whatever way feels best for you, readies your immune system to be prepared for anything — whether it’s recovering from the mild pain and discomfort of a flu shot, or from the symptoms of a full-blown flu or another immune system-related health issue. In other words, go forth and make those gains, because it just might provide your body with an extra layer of protection against getting sick.
Of course, as with anything in life, remember to work out in moderation, says Paz. "In general, people should not overdo their exercise after a flu shot," he tells Elite Daily. He recommends you "listen to your body," because in the end, only you know how far you should be pushing yourself.
Along with tuning into your body’s individual cues and needs, Paz stresses the importance of staying well hydrated after your flu shot, regardless of whether or not you’re exercising. About eight glasses (or 64 ounces) is usually the recommended amount of water to drink in a day, so do your best to aim for somewhere around that.
Keep in mind, though, that just because exercise may improve your body’s response to a flu shot, that doesn’t mean your workout won’t feel a little different post-vaccination. "You may experience side effects that inhibit your usual workouts or workout intensity," says Caitlin Hoff, a health and safety investigator for ConsumerSafety.org who specializes in the safety of common drugs and medical devices.
According to Hoff, those side effects could include headaches, a sore arm or swelling around the spot where you had your shot, and/or a mild fever (though Hoff notes that a post-flu shot fever is a pretty rare symptom). Just to be clear, Hoff explains these are all side effects of the vaccine, not of your workout.
Nonetheless, "if you experience any of these symptoms, you might feel better resting for a day or two before you get back to the gym," Hoff suggests. "You might also just tailor your workout. For example, with a sore arm, you could avoid upper body workouts until the swelling or soreness recedes."
Ultimately, it’s up to you and your pain tolerance to determine whether you feel well enough to work out. Whatever you decide, remember to give yourself credit for taking care of your body, in more ways than one.
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