In the days leading up to getting your COVID vaccine, you might be nervous about needles, but stoked about finally receiving your immunity juice. You’ve taken a day or two off from work just in case you have side effects and you’ve been staying hydrated to soften the blow of said side effects. But when your COVID vaccine appointment is at 8 a.m. and you tend to hit the trail for a morning run around 7, you’ll have to figure out if you can safely work out before and after getting the COVID vaccine.
Can You Work Out Before Getting The COVID Vaccine?
“A heavy workout will not lower your immune response to the vaccine and is safe — as long as you stay hydrated,” says Dr. Michael Green, M.D., a family medicine physician and the associate medical director of Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care. For the sake of other human beings, you don’t want to roll into your appointment still sweaty from your workout, but Dr. Green says there’s no reason that exercising right beforehand would have a negative impact on your immunization. But even though you can bang out a 10k right before getting your shot, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, as dehydration can worsen certain side effects (think muscle cramps).
Can You Work Out After Getting The COVID Vaccine?
The short answer: yes. The long answer: yes, if you’re feeling up to it. “You are welcome to work out after getting the COVID vaccine but you may want to adjust your routine depending on how you feel afterward,” says Dr. Michael Richardson, MD, a family medicine doctor with One Medical. But whether — and how — you work out after getting vaccinated depends on your side effects.
Working Out With Arm Soreness
“If your arm is bothering you after receiving the vaccine, then it might make sense to alter your workout temporarily,” says Dr. Mark Fierstein, M.D., an internal medicine specialist at NYU Langone Ambulatory Care Lake Success. “Perhaps substitute more leg exercises and limit arm work for a few days.”
If you do choose to continue your upper body workouts, Dr. Richardson advises using caution. “The pain may make your form less stable than usual,” he explains, so pay special attention to how you’re moving your dumbbells.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move at all with post-COVID arm soreness. “Try to keep your shoulders active and stretch them to help reduce the shoulder pain,” Dr. Richardson suggests. “After my vaccine, my shoulder was so sore that I had to take a break from lifting for a day or two, so I took that time to finally incorporate a stretch day. My body was very appreciative of the break.”
Working Out With Mild, Full-Body Side Effects
When you’re generally feeling kind of crappy post-vaccine but still solid enough to move — think a headache or extra sleepiness — you might choose to stick to your workout, especially if it’ll make your mind feel better.
“If your side effects are mild and you feel up to it, you can work out,” Dr. Fierstein says. He suggests perhaps reducing your workout intensity — going on a long walk when you’d otherwise run — or substituting yoga instead of weight lifting until you’re feeling steadier.
Working Out With A Fever Or Stronger Side Effects
When the side effects are stronger, though, you’ll want to take a few days off from your routine. “If you are experiencing fevers, chills, body aches, or cramps, you should avoid intense workouts,” Dr. Green says. “You should not try to exercise through the fever or sweat it out.”
Dr. Fierstein says that you risk hurting yourself more if you try to push yourself, especially in the face of a fever. “A person may already be losing a lot of fluids through sweating and the risk for dehydration with vigorous exercise is increased, especially if the person has not been keeping up with oral intake. Also, in the presence of a high fever, the heart rate is increased, even at rest, so vigorous exercise may be even more stressful than usual.”
In other words, you’ll want to make sure your post-vaccine workout decision based on how you’re feeling. “For most people, listening to their body and common sense can guide their behavior through this time,” Dr. Fierstein says. “If four or five days have elapsed since the vaccination and you are not able to resume your regular workouts, it is a good idea to contact your physician.”
Dr. Michael Green, M.D., family medicine physician, associate medical director of Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care
Dr. Michael Richardson, a family medicine doctor with One Medical
Dr. Mark Fierstein, M.D., an internal medicine specialist at NYU Langone Ambulatory Care Lake Success