Everyone’s body reacts slightly differently after an annual flu shot depending on multiple factors.
Some people will experience soreness at the site of the vaccine and little else in terms of side effects, whereas other people might feel fatigued, be sick, or have headaches.
Knowledge of the potential side effects after a flu shot leaves some fitness lovers wondering whether it’s safe for them to work out after having their vaccine.
In today’s article, we’ll be discussing the most common side effects of the flu shot as well as some rarer effects with the aim of determining whether it’s okay to exercise afterward.
We will also touch on how to exercise safely in the aftermath of your flu shot.
Potential Side Effects Of Flu Shots
As we have mentioned, there is a lot of variety when it comes to the potential side effects after getting a flu shot. Some people feel absolutely fine while others are wiped out for a day or two.
Here are the most common side effects people experience after a flu shot:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Mildly elevated body temperature
- Pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Some rarer and more serious side effects of the flu shot have also been reported. While you are much less likely to experience these, they are important to be aware of, especially if you have suffered allergic or severe reactions to vaccines in the past:
- High temperature
- Severe swelling
- Elevated heart rate
- Dizziness and fainting
- Breathing difficulties
Should You Exercise After A Flu Shot?
For most people, it’s absolutely fine to exercise after a flu shot. Due to the natural immune response from the shot, you may experience mild symptoms such as arm soreness or a slight headache as a result of the flu vaccine.
However, while vaccine side effects vary from person to person, the symptoms will usually be manageable and shouldn’t prevent you from getting some moderate exercise.
With that being said, it’s probably best to avoid anything overly strenuous right after a flu shot.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to tone down your workout if you don’t feel the need to, but the day of your flu shot is probably not the best day to push yourself extra hard to try to achieve a new personal best.
Whether you want to push through mild side effects or take the day off from physical activity is entirely up to you.
Some people find that exercising after a flu shot actually helps them to feel better, while others feel the need to rest until they feel totally normal again.
You know your body best and assuming that the side effects are mild, it probably won’t do any harm either way.
However, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms on our list of severe side effects, it’s important that you don’t exert yourself physically.
These could be signs of a dangerous allergic reaction, and you should seek urgent medical attention.
Hives, difficulty breathing, and fainting are not normal responses to a flu shot and should prompt a trip to the emergency room, not the gym.
How To Exercise (Safely) After A Flu Shot
While it’s fine to exercise after your flu shot as long as you’re not experiencing any severe symptoms or signs of an allergic reaction, you may want to adjust your workout routine slightly to accommodate any mild tiredness or soreness.
If your injection arm is sore, for example, this might be a good opportunity to focus on leg day instead. If you’re generally feeling a bit achy, it’s wise to take it slow.
And, if you usually run as fast as you can on the treadmill, you might want to try a jog or brisk walk instead.
Again, if your fatigue or aches and pains are intense, you might be better off just skipping today’s workout. It’s okay to rest and recuperate if your body feels the need to, even if you don’t have any of the more alarming symptoms.
Listen to your body above everything else.
Some symptoms, such as dizziness, might come on suddenly during exercise. Even if you felt fine earlier, it’s always possible that you could start feeling unwell at the gym or on your daily run.
If you begin to feel lightheaded, dizzy, nauseous, or like you might pass out while exercising after your flu shot, try to sit down immediately, even if that means sitting on the floor.
Try to breathe calmly and slowly sip some water. If there’s someone else nearby, alert them so that they can help.
Depending on how severely unwell you feel, you might need to call someone to take you home or even contact an emergency number if you think you need medical assistance.
To minimize the likelihood of feeling unwell during exercise after your shot, you should make sure to eat a nutritious meal and hydrate yourself with plenty of fluids before you work out.
Just to be on the safe side, it might be better to exercise with a friend in case you start to feel sick and need assistance. At least make sure you have your phone somewhere accessible – again, just in case.
If you feel fine right after your shot, these extra precautions may seem like overkill, but side effects can come on suddenly, so it’s always better to be prepared for every eventuality, even if it’s unlikely.
Mild symptoms after a flu vaccination are fairly common, and for most people, they don’t prevent gentle exercise or even moderate physical exertion.
However, side effects can sometimes be more severe, and very rarely, some people suffer dangerous allergic reactions. Serious side effects warrant immediate medical attention and exercise should be avoided until they have subsided.
Assuming that you only have mild or no side effects, it’s perfectly fine to exercise. With that said, avoid pushing yourself harder than usual.
You should also make sure that you are nourished and hydrated before your workout and that you either have another person or a phone with you just in case symptoms come on or worsen suddenly.