Can I Exercise Before Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine?

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Key Takeaways

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers no official guidance on exercising before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Experts say there’s likely no drawback to exercising before you get vaccinated, and there may even be some benefits.
  • Exercising before you get vaccinated could potentially boost your immune response.

If you regularly exercise, you may be wondering if you can continue to do so before or after getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t offer specific advice on physical activity and vaccination. However, there is research that suggests that working out before you get vaccinated may help boost your body’s immune response, which is how the body reacts to potentially harmful invaders.

What Does the CDC Say About Exercise and the Covid Vaccination?

The CDC doesn't offer any official guidance on exercise, either before or after your COVID-19 vaccine. They do say that you can “use or exercise your arm” after you get your vaccine to reduce possible pain and soreness where you got the shot.

It’s not entirely clear why there is no official advice on exercise, but it’s likely because the clinical trials for the vaccines did not advise participants on exercise, Richard Watkins, MD, an infectious disease physician and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Verywell.

Does Exercise Make Vaccines More Effective?

Some research suggests that:

  • Exercising before vaccination can help improve the body’s immune response.
  • Exercising regularly can help boost immune system function.
  • Even one short exercise session can prompt better immune function.

Another review of 20 studies on exercise and vaccine responses also determined that both working out regularly and before vaccination can help improve the body’s vaccine response.

There is no specific data for how exercise may impact the COVID-19 vaccine, lead study author Kate M. Edwards, PhD, associate professor of exercise and sport sciences at the University of Sydney, tells Verywell. “But research has shown that exercising—15 minutes, moderate intensity, resistance exercise—before receiving other vaccines is safe, might actually reduce some of the symptoms of vaccine reactions, and boost your immune response,” she says.

The reason, notes Edwards, is that “exercise activates your immune system, bringing more cells into the blood.” She cites an example of exercising the arm muscles where you received the vaccine to combat soreness. “Those muscle cells are releasing immune molecules that could help the immune system identify and respond more efficiently,” she adds.

What This Means For You

Experts say there’s no reason not to exercise before you get vaccinated against COVID-19. Just stick to your usual workout routine and don't push yourself too hard.

Can You Exercise Before Your COVID-19 Vaccine?

Doctors agree that it seems to be fine, and may even be beneficial to get some activity in before your Covid shot.

Jamie Alan, PhD, an associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, tells Verywell that people can “absolutely" exercise before getting vaccinated against COVID-19. “If you have no contraindications—[or a condition that makes it unsafe to partake in physical activity]—to work out, to begin with, then it is safe to work out before your COVID-19 vaccine,” she adds.

Stacey Rose, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine and infectious diseases at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, agrees. “I am not aware of any contraindications for physical activity before COVID-19 vaccination,” she tells Verywell.

Experts say there really aren’t any potential issues with exercising before you are vaccinated, although they suggest being mindful of your limits. “You don't want to injure yourself and then have to miss your vaccine appointment,” Watkins says.

Can You Exercise After Your Covid-19 Vaccine?

Rose says it’s fine to work out after you’re vaccinated, but recommends listening to your body. “If you are feeling tired or sore, then take a break from exercising,” she says.

While you can do any exercise after being vaccinated, Rose says it’s “probably better to exercise using the muscles where the vaccine is given” to lessen any discomfort you may feel at the injection site, like arm soreness. She suggests resistance band exercises or body-weight exercises that use your arms, noting they “might be a better idea than going for a run.”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I drink alcohol before getting my Covid-19 vaccine?

    As of December 2021, there isn't enough research on alcohol use and the Covid-19 vaccine. The CDC does not mention anything about alcohol use prior to getting the Covid vaccine, however, they note that alcohol use weakens the immune system response.

  • Can I take an over-the-counter pain medication before the Covid-19 vaccine?

    According to the CDC, you should not take over-the-counter medications or antihistamines, which are allergy medications, before getting your Covid vaccine. As of December 2021, it is not known how these medications may impact the shot's effectiveness.

    If you regularly take medication, speak with your doctor prior to getting vaccinated.

  • Can I lift weights after the Covid-19 vaccine?

    According to the experts who spoke with Verywell, it is okay to exercise after getting your vaccine, including using the arm that was vaccinated. However, be mindful of your body and take a break if you feel exhausted or too sore to work out.

  • Is it normal to feel tired after getting the Covid-19 vaccine?

    The CDC lists feeling tired as a common side effect of the vaccine.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Edwards K, Booy R. Effects of exercise on vaccine-induced immune responses. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2013;9(4):907-910. doi:10.4161/hv.23365

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Possible side effects after getting a covid-19 vaccine.

  3. Edwards K, Booy R. Effects of exercise on vaccine-induced immune responses. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2013;9(4):907-910. doi:10.4161/hv.23365

  4. Pascoe A, Fiatarone Singh M, Edwards K. The effects of exercise on vaccination responses: a review of chronic and acute exercise interventions in humans. Brain Behav Immun. 2014;39:33-41. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2013.10.003

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol and substance use.

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preparing for your covid-19 vaccination.

  7. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention. Possible side effects after getting a covid-19 vaccine.

By Korin Miller
Korin Miller is a health and lifestyle journalist who has been published in The Washington Post, Prevention, SELF, Women's Health, The Bump, and Yahoo, among other outlets.