Can You Workout After Covid Vaccine?

Can You Workout After Covid Vaccine?
Can You Workout After Covid Vaccine

One of the most commonly asked questions lately is the question of whether it's safe or advised to workout following your Covid Vaccine. Let's preface this discussion by stating that you should ask your doctor or healthcare provider this question, they know more about the specific vaccine you received, and know more about your personal medical history and any risk factors unique to you. That said let's talk a bit about working out after getting a Covid 19 vaccination. 

Now initially there wasn't really any guidance out encouraging people to avoid exercise or strenuous activity following a vaccination. The thought was basically as long as your side effects are mild and you feel well enough to exercise go right ahead and do so. More recently however, as we learn more about the vaccines and side effects, there have been more instances of certain individuals experiencing myocardistis (inflammation of the heart muscle), and pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium), and that's changed the conversation a bit, leaving some Governing Health bodies from around the world suggestion that people avoid strenuous activity following a Covid 19 vaccine. 

What Are Expected Side Effects of the Covid 19 Vaccine?

Before we get into more recent guidance regarding strenuous activity post vax, let's talk about the common side effects from the vaccine. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention aka the CDC state common side effects include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. For those who experience these side effects they normally begin within a few hours, to a day or two of getting the vaccine, and the CDC states these may affect your ability to do daily activities including exercise. These side effects are a sign your immune system is responding to the vaccine. 

Triggering an immune response puts stress on your body. Working out and doing strenuous activity also is a stresser on our bodies. We also know that everyone responds differently and some people's bodies respond with more intense side effects post vaccine. With that in mind, if you can tolerate a day or two out of the gym and off your regular exercise routine, it may not be a bad idea to take a few days off of the gym to see how your body response to the vaccine. Some people choose to do less strenuous workouts than their typical routine, maybe going for a long walk or taking a bike ride in place of your normal two hour long gym session of heavy resistance training and weight lifting. 

Dr. Wyles MD and infectious disease specialist and head of infectious disease at Denver Health tells people to to their bodies. If you don't feel well enough to exercise, take a rest day. Missing a gym session is never pleasant for those dedicated to a training schedule, but taking a rest day and allowing your body to recover could be better than doing something counterproductive like training in a weakened state and getting in a sub par workout, or potentially feeling worse and having to take more time away from the gym. 

In terms of what's recommended to best deal with any side effects post vaccine, experts recommend mitigating side effects by taking ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistimines. It's also recommended to stay hydrated and drink plenty of beverages with electrolytes, as well as getting good sleep and getting some rest. 

Updated Guidance Regarding Working Out Post Vaccine

In recent weeks we've learned more about vaccinated individuals, in particular mostly young healthy men, experiencing heart problems post vaccine, and one male teen in particular suffering from cardiac arrest. More recently Singapore's Government, as well as several other health organizations from around the world have begun to update guidance and are recommending that vaccinated people avoid physical activity for a week prior to getting vaccinated. 

More serious issues like heart issues aside, Dr. Abhishek Bansal, Director of Orthopaedics Spine and Sports Injuries at Diyos Hospital says that "strenuous workouts within 48-72 hours post vaccination might lead to prolongation of myalgias and fatigue. It would be prudent to wait for 2-3 days post vaccination for the muscle paints and fatigue to settle down. This sentiment was echoed by Dr. Moon of Wockhardt Hospital who said "Taking a break for a couple of days won't hamper your workout progress. It is important to let your body recover from the side effects. Don't be harsh on yourself, you won't gain weight in a day."

Anecdotally, I have a few friends and family members who are gym fanatics and went straight from their vaccination appointment to the gym for an hour or two long workout, and each of them wound up feeling worse for wear for a couple of days. Now would they have felt bad regardless of working out? That's certainly a possibility, but like the experts above mentioned, it's probably not a bad idea to take a couple of rest days.

Again, and we can't stress this enough, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider, they know more about your personal situation, medical history, and the vaccine you received and can better advise you about how to proceed. 

May 20th 2023

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