Make Flu Shots Last Longer with This Trick

Senior Man Walking by Baseball Field

Medically reviewed in February 2021

Some research suggests that the flu shot wears off more quickly in older people. But here's something you can do to counter that: Go for a walk.

In a study of older adults who weren't regularly active, those who started exercising three times a week had more antibodies from the shot -- and they kept those antibodies for longer than normal.

A Shot at Health
Up to 25 percent of older adults don't get adequate protection from the flu, even though they receive a flu vaccine. That's because the immune systems of older adults don't respond as well to flu vaccines. No one really knows why, but dietary factors, underlying illness, immune system aging, prior vaccinations, and exposure to other flu viruses may all play a part in this decreased response.

Up Your Shot
But in one study, people nearing their seventh decade engaged in either flexibility training twice a week or stamina-building exercise -- including cycling, elliptical training, stair climbing, and brisk walking -- three times a week. Four months into training, everyone received a flu shot. Six months later, blood tests showed that those in the stamina-building group had continued immunity against the flu, while those in the flexibility exercise group did not. Researchers suspect cardiovascular exercise enhances antibody production or somehow interferes with antibody removal from the body.

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