While the influenza epidemic seems to be dissipating in several parts of the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that it could make a comeback within the next few weeks. The CDC reports that you are 62 percent less likely to catch the flu if you’ve received a vaccination, but a new study from Iowa State University shows that you could reap even greater benefits if you exercise afterwards.
During the study, researchers separated healthy young adults into two groups, one that exercised for 90 minutes after receiving their flu shots and one that sat quietly for the same period. After checking the blood levels of flu antibodies in these groups, scientists found that those who had exercised directly following the shot had nearly double the immune response of those who didn’t. They also had higher white blood cell counts, an indicator of immune health, according to CBS.
Medical professionals believe that by stimulating blood circulation and activating the immune system, exercise can help vaccinestake effect throughout the body more quickly. It should be noted that while researchers tested participants within two hours of their flu shots, further studies may be required to see whether exercise the following day, or later that night, could have a similar effect.
Jon Abramson, M.D., told ABC News that flu season usually peaks in February or March, but not December or January. Abramson specializes in pediatric infectious diseases at Wake Forest Baptist Health in North Carolina, and added that the season started early because of a particularly virulent influenza strain that was last seen about 10 years ago. At that time, the flu season began and ended early, so Abramson believes the same may be true this year.
“It may be decreasing in some areas, but that’s hard to predict,” CDC director Tomas Frieden, M.D., told the news source. “Trends only in the next week or two will show whether we have in fact crossed the peak.”
Despite the early start to the flu season, the CDC believes that there are no worrisome flu patterns among young children. In addition to having a fairly low number of fatalities compared with this same time stage of flu distribution in the 2002 – 2003 season, the CDC says that there is no shortage of treatments. Vaccine manufacturers have now created 145 million vaccines, 128 million of which had already been distributed by January 14, according to the Center for Infection Disease Research and Policy.