Health Advice



Exercise can boost vaccine effectiveness

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

Martha Graham, who danced and taught for more than 70 years, knew a thing or two about vitality: "There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and ... this expression is unique."

Unfortunately, a survey of 10,000 U.S. adults reveals that only 18% have "high vitality." High vitality means they are healthier, exercise more often, are less likely to have obesity and more likely to have a primary care doctor than other folks.

Can you guess what benefits they gain? Bet you didn't think of this! Turns out that regular exercise increases the effectiveness of their COVID-19 vaccine.

A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that the COVID-19 vaccine is effective in keeping folks who exercise regularly out of the hospital 85% of the time, while vaccinated folks who get little or no exercise only gain 60% protection. Theories about how that works include:

-- Moderate physical activity helps antibodies and white blood cells detect and fight illnesses earlier than they might otherwise.

-- Exercise helps lower stress hormone levels, and lower stress may protect you from illness.

-- Physical activity clears "bugs" out of the lungs and airways, and your rise in temperature during and right after exercise may prevent infectors from growing.


So, increase your vitality, your vital signs and your vaccine's effectiveness with 10,000 steps a day; cardio three days a week at 80% of your age-adjusted max (a heart rate of 220 minus your calendar age is your max), and strength training twice a week.


Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



Lisa Benson Scary Gary Bill Day Walt Handelsman Mike Du Jour Carpe Diem