Doing sports after a vaccination – yes or no? Doctors often advise against physical exertion in the first few days after vaccination. That unsettles. Is sport now forbidden after a vaccination or what is the basis for such a recommendation? What is allowed and what is not?
In this article we will explain to you how a vaccination works and whether sport can influence the effectiveness of the vaccination. We have answered the most important questions about sports after a vaccination. So you know exactly what to look out for when your next vaccination is due. Finally, we also give you creative alternatives to sports after a vaccination.
the essentials in brief
- Vaccinations represent an important protection against communicable diseases. If you receive a vaccination, your body develops antibodies against the respective disease. This significantly reduces your risk of becoming seriously ill.
- You should avoid exceptionally high loads after a vaccination - however, moderate endurance sports can lead to an improved response rate to the vaccination. Listen to your body and consult your GP.
- Vaccinations and exercise are two important complementary ingredients for a healthy life. Vaccinations protect you from infectious diseases. So you probably have less sick leave in training. Regular exercise, in turn, improves your physical and psychological fitness. Win win.
Exercising after a vaccination: What you should know about it
After vaccination, it is often recommended to avoid physical exertion such as sport. A vaccination demands a lot from the body and sport also demands a lot from your body. So does one exclude the other?
How a vaccination affects your body and what connection there is to sport is to be clarified below. We also clarify whether competitive athletes have to meet special requirements.
How does a vaccination work?
Vaccinations are important medical measures to protect against serious infectious diseases.(1) Basically, a vaccination enables your immune system to confront a pathogen without you becoming ill.(2)
This is how your body builds defenses that will protect you if you encounter this pathogen—you develop immunity to the disease.(2)
There are different types of vaccines:
- Live vaccines: Live vaccines contain small doses of reproductive pathogens. These pathogens have been weakened so that the disease itself cannot be triggered.(3) However, your body reacts to the pathogens and produces antibodies. Vaccination against mumps, measles and rubella, for example, are live vaccines.
- Inactivated vaccines: Inactivated vaccines contain dead pathogens or components thereof.(3) Your body recognizes that these components are foreign to it and then initiates the formation of antibodies.
- Vector-based vaccines : Vector vaccines contain viruses, the so-called vectors, which are harmless to humans. These carry information about the antigen of the virus so your immune system can fight it.(4)
- RNA vaccines : RNA vaccines contain messenger ribonucleic acid. These transmit information on the formation of antibodies by first replicating proteins of the virus and then fighting them off with the immune system. There is no risk of illness since only proteins are produced.(4)
Each of these vaccines causes an immune response in your body so that antibodies are produced.
Does vaccination affect your athletic performance?
Vaccination can have a temporary impact on your athletic performance. The vaccination puts your body to the test. He responds with an immune response. Your immune system works to make antibodies.
Vaccination reactions refer to your body's desired response to the vaccine. They can temporarily impair your athletic performance.
In addition, vaccination reactions such as local redness or pain as well as headaches and body aches can occur. This means that you may not be able to perform at your usual level.
Why no sport after a vaccination?
The doctor often advises against physical exertion, such as sport, after a vaccination. So far, however, studies have not been able to prove that there is a connection between doing sports and negative vaccination reactions or side effects.(5) Moderate endurance sports can even lead to an improvement in the response rate to the vaccination.(5) In the case of intensive sports units, on the other hand, side effects increased in individual cases.( 5)
This means that doing sports after a vaccination is generally not a problem.(6) Especially if you do sports regularly and your body is used to the stress, there is nothing to say against it. However, you should avoid unusual or extreme loads. So stick to moderate-intensity workouts.
What should you watch out for when exercising after a vaccination?
After a vaccination you can do the sport that you are normally used to. You should avoid new or intense stress, especially in the area of vaccination.
You should avoid high levels of stress immediately after a vaccination. In individual cases, there is the possibility that extreme physical exertion will cause side effects to an increased extent. To avoid this, focus on moderate endurance sports after a vaccination - as long as you feel fit and there are no side effects. (Image Source: Pexels / Pixabay )
In particular, moderate endurance sports units, such as jogging or cycling, are recommended. Such sports can even have a positive effect on the response rate.(5)
You should avoid intensive strength training. A dumbbell workout for the arms does not have to be after a vaccination. Side effects occur more frequently in such overload situations in which you, especially your vaccinated arm, put extraordinarily heavy strain on your muscles.(5)
When should you not exercise after a vaccination?
If minor vaccination reactions occur, such as local redness or slight pain at the injection site, a complete break from sport is not necessary.(5) However, if side effects occur, you should refrain from sport until you have fully recovered. Vaccination reactions and side effects differ as follows:
- Vaccine Response: Vaccine responses describe your body's desired immune response to the given vaccine.(7) They indicate that your immune system is reacting to the vaccine and is building up antibodies. Vaccination reactions occur in the short term and also disappear after a few days. They do not have a permanent effect on you.(8) Typical vaccination reactions are local reddening, swelling or pain as well as general malaise, headache and body aches or fever.(8)
- Side effects: Vaccination side effects are unwanted drug effects.(8) These occur rather rarely. If you notice any side effects, contact your family doctor immediately.
Flu, tetanus, TBE, etc. - after which vaccination are you allowed to do sports and when?
In principle, there are no concerns about doing moderate sport after a vaccination, especially if you are used to it. Despite the fact that no scientific evidence has yet been found that sport has a negative effect on you after vaccination, a sport break of one week or a two to three week reduction in sport is recommended for safety reasons in the case of live vaccinations.(5)
To give you a better overview of which vaccinations apply to this recommendation, we have listed the vaccinations currently recommended by the StiKO:
|cholera||live vaccine(9)||1 week sports break or 2-3 weeks sports reduction|
|dengue||live vaccine(10)||1 week sports break or 2-3 weeks sports reduction|
|diphtheria||inactivated vaccine(11)||Sport basically possible|
|TBE||Inactivated vaccine(12)||Sport basically possible|
|yellow fever||live vaccine(13)||1 week sports break or 2-3 weeks sports reduction|
|Haemophilus influenzae type B||Inactivated vaccine(14)||Sport basically possible|
|Hepatitis A||Inactivated vaccine(15)||Sport basically possible|
|Hepatitis B||Inactivated vaccine(16)||Sport basically possible|
|Herpes zoster (shingles)||live vaccine(17)||1 week sports break or 2-3 weeks sports reduction|
|HPV||Inactivated vaccine(18)||Sport basically possible|
|influenza||usually inactivated vaccine, alternatively live vaccine for nasal administration(19)(20)||Sport basically possible or 1 week break from sport or 2-3 weeks sport reduction|
|Japanese encephalitis||dead vaccine(21)||Sport basically possible|
|measles||live vaccine(22)||1 week sports break or 2-3 weeks sports reduction|
|mumps||live vaccine(23)||1 week sports break or 2-3 weeks sports reduction|
|Pertussis (whooping cough)||Inactivated vaccine(24)||Sport basically possible|
|pneumococci||Inactivated vaccine(25)||Sport basically possible|
|smallpox||Inactivated vaccine(26)||Sport basically possible|
|poliomyelitis||Inactivated vaccine(27)||Sport basically possible|
|rotavirus||live vaccine(28)||1 week sports break or 2-3 weeks sports reduction|
|rubella||live vaccine(29)||1 week sports break or 2-3 weeks sports reduction|
|tetanus||Inactivated Vaccine(30)||Sport basically possible|
|rabies||inactivated vaccine(31)||Sport basically possible|
|typhus||Live vaccine or inactivated vaccine(32)||1 week sports break or 2-3 weeks sport reduction or sport basically possible|
|Varicella (chickenpox)||live vaccine(33)||1 week sports break or 2-3 weeks sports reduction|
The table is intended to give you an overview and in no case replaces medical advice. If you are unsure, please consult your doctor.
Do vaccinations work differently in athletes?
Studies have so far shown no differences in the uptake and tolerance of a vaccine between athletes and non-athletes.(5) Exercising at the usual level does not appear to influence the seroconversion rate. A seroconversion rate refers to the proportion of people who can demonstrate the formation of antibodies in their blood after vaccination.(34)
What are the vaccination recommendations for competitive athletes?
In principle, the StiKo does not provide any separate vaccination recommendations for competitive athletes.(35) In this respect, the general vaccination recommendations apply to both amateur and competitive athletes. Full vaccination protection is recommended for competitive athletes who take part in competitions in order to avoid illness.
Depending on the sport, some vaccinations are particularly recommended:
- Sports with a risk of skin injuries: In sports with an increased risk of contracting contaminated skin injuries, such as football or cycling, vaccination against tetanus is particularly recommended. (5)
- Contact sports & martial arts: In contact sports as well as martial arts there is a certain risk of becoming infected with hepatitis B through open wounds or sharing sports materials.(5) Therefore, make sure that you have a valid hepatitis B vaccination if you practice such sports.
- International competitive sport: If you occasionally travel abroad for competitions and there may only be limited hygiene standards there, a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended. Since isolated outbreaks of the disease have also occurred at sporting events, a certain basic immunization is recommended in any case, for example against measles.(5)
- Outdoor sports: If you often train outdoors, you are at an increased risk of having an unpleasant encounter with a tick. In order to protect you from the consequences of this encounter, it is advisable to build up a preventive vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).(5)
As an athlete, you should be aware of the advantages of full vaccination protection: The better you are protected against infectious diseases, the less risk you have of missing out on training or competitions due to such diseases. If a competition is coming up, doctors recommend no vaccination two weeks beforehand.
The general rule is: Consult with your family doctor about the right vaccination protection for you.
What are the alternatives to exercise after vaccination?
For all those who want to take it easy after a vaccination, we have listed some alternatives to sport here. This way you can bridge your sports break without getting bored.
- Going for a walk: You don't want to give up exercise? Take a long walk in the forest. Enjoy the fresh air and do something good for your cardiovascular system.
- Mental training: Sport consists of more than just physical exercise. Try mental training. Whether with mindfulness exercises, meditation or concentration exercises. You can promote your athletic performance on many levels.
- Tactics & strategy: Team athletes in particular can use their training reduction to deal in depth with the tactics and strategy of their sport. You might discover a strategy that will bring about decisive victory in the next competition.
- Be a coach: If you should take a break from sports after a vaccination, you can still stand by your teammates as a supportive coach. Discuss with your coach how you can best support the team. So you don't miss any training sessions and even get to know the trainer's perspective.
- Coordinative skills: When was the last time you specifically trained your coordination skills? There are many fun exercises that will keep you busy. Coordinative exercises are fun and promote your athletic ability.
- Other hobbies: Use the sports break and turn to other hobbies again. Conjure up a delicious 3-course meal, knit a pair of colorful socks or play old computer games. Revive the hobbies that are otherwise neglected.
You can use a break or reduction in sports to focus on other aspects of your sport. With some of these alternatives, you promote your athletic performance despite minimal physical activity.
Or you can use the free time you have gained to revive almost forgotten hobbies or try out completely new ones. Your creativity knows no limits. Do yourself a favor and try things that make you happy .
Go for a stroll
Walking is a great way to bridge breaks from exercise and still stay active. Basically, it is a moderate endurance training. It has been scientifically proven that regular walking has a preventive effect against cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure .(36)
A walk through the forest is not only good for your health but also a feast for your senses. Breathe the fresh air. Hear the birds chirp. Discover natural playgrounds, such as balancing a tree trunk. (Image source: Free-Photos / Pixabay)
The fresh air is good and keeps you awake . A walk in the forest in particular is a nice change from the sometimes stressful everyday work. Walking is a leisure activity that is often underestimated.
Sport is not just purely physical. Our mental fitness also has a significant impact on our athletic performance. You can therefore use phases in which you should rest physically, such as after a vaccination, to specifically promote your mental fitness.
In mental training, motivation and expectations, mindfulness and focus of attention, psychoregulation, activation ability and imagination play an important role.(37) Many guides give you tips on useful techniques.
Tactics & Strategy
Team athletes in particular can make good use of sports breaks to delve deeper into various strategies, such as attacking. For example, if the previous attack strategy has been moderately successful so far, research whether other tactics might be able to compensate for the existing weakness. Suggest the new tactic during training and then try it out together. In this way, you develop an even deeper understanding of your sport and, ideally, expand your team's repertoire.
But also in individual sports, different strategies can be the decisive factor in success. In running, for example, you can try out when is the best time for you to speed up or slow down again in order to achieve your best time overall. Different guides will introduce you to different strategies. Find out and try them out in your next training sessions. You might discover a strategy that suits you better.
be a coach
You don't want to let your team down despite a sports break or sports reduction? Talk to your coach about how you can best support your team. Maybe you prepare the warm-up program or create a circuit training session.
You can then guide this in training. So you don't miss a single training session and are not just a passive visitor on the substitutes' bench.
Did you know that there are seven coordinative skills? These include the ability to react, the ability to rhythmize, the ability to balance, the ability to orientate oneself in space, the ability to orientate kinesthetically, the ability to couple and the ability to adapt.(38)
There are seven coordinative skills.
You can easily train these skills with playful exercises. For example, balance on different floor coverings or practice juggling. These exercises are fun and challenge you motorically as well as cognitively. A great occupation for phases of sports reduction.
To give you a few ideas of what you can do alternatively, we have put together a small overview of possible hobbies for you here. Have fun browsing and trying things out.
- Sporty : juggling, meditation, coordination exercises
- Culinary : cooking, baking, mixing cocktails, preparing sushi, dessert
- Crafts : woodwork, metalwork, pottery, handicrafts, sewing
- Artistic : painting, drawing, photography
- Musically : learning an instrument, singing
- Literary : reading books, writing poetry, writing a book yourself
- Creative : Crafts, Knitting, Crochet, Macrame, DIY projects
- Computer : PC games, programming
Exercising after a vaccination is generally okay. It has not yet been scientifically confirmed that there is a negative connection between sport and vaccination. Occasionally, too much stress, especially in the vaccinated area, can lead to increased side effects. Moderate endurance exercise, on the other hand, seems to improve the vaccine response rate.
Listen carefully to your body. If you do not experience any side effects, i.e. you feel fit and you are used to sports, there is nothing to be said against a moderate sports unit. However, avoid exceptionally high loads. In the first few days after a vaccination you should not try to achieve new peak performance. Concentrate more on your basic endurance during this period. If you are unsure, consult your doctor.
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