Experts say healthy diet and light exercise may boost immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine

NOW: Experts say healthy diet and light exercise may boost immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A federally published study shows a high level of physical activity is linked with improved vaccine responses in older adults, so could what we eat and how we exercise help improve how our immunity responds to the COVID-19 vaccine?

Experts say it’s no secret that exercise improves immune function, and they say you don’t have to do too much to reap the benefits.

“The concept essentially is to simply get your heart rate up higher than if you were sitting down, so that can simply be a brisk walk,” says Nicole Kerneen, a registered and certified dietitian and personal trainer at Way of Life Nutrition and Fitness.

Registered dietitians say your immune system will see a boost with consistent light exercise. If you don’t exercise regularly but do decide to prior to getting a vaccine, Kerneen says there are still some benefits.

“You’ll have a lot more circulation happening, you also have all of the immune receptors really alert, and so that in turn can essentially help,” she adds.

Experts say some sort of upper body movement after getting a vaccine isn’t a bad idea either.

“Post-vaccination, if you’re able to and feeling well enough of course, without stressing the body too much, engage in some light activity. That can actually promote circulation which can support our immune system’s response” said Cassie Vanderwall, a clinical nutritionist at UW Health.

“As simple as with no weight at all and you’re just moving your arm up and down, you’re stretching it and allowing it to move,” Kerneen adds.

Vanderwall says certain foods can also cause inflammation, which affects immune response.

“High sugary processed foods, those are pro-inflammatory, meaning they’re going to light the fire, we’re actually looking for foods that are going to put out or calm down the fire,” she says.

Kerneen says when it comes to improving immunity with food, consistency is key, but eating something unhealthy every once in a while is still okay. Dieticians suggest foods like leafy green vegetables, berries, citrus, garlic and onions.

“Those things are incredible for your body and for your immune system and to decrease inflammation,” says Kerneen.

“Salmon or walnuts, nuts and seeds. A meal composed of those items post-vaccine, pre-vaccine or every day is really going to help,” Vanderwall said.

On top of diet and exercise, experts say good rest and hydration can also provide good circulation before and after you get a COVID-19 vaccine.

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