Association between physical activity and immunogenicity of an inactivated virus vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 in patients with autoimmune rheumatic diseases

Brain Behav Immun. 2022 Mar;101:49-56. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2021.12.016. Epub 2021 Dec 23.


Objectives: To investigate whether physical activity is associated with enhanced immunogenicity of a SARS-CoV-2 inactivated vaccine (Coronavac) in patients with autoimmune rheumatic diseases (ARD) (n = 898) and in non-ARD (n = 197) individuals without pre-existing immunogenicity to SARS-CoV-2.

Methods: This was a prospective cohort study within an open-label, single-arm, phase 4 vaccination trial. Immunogenicity was assessed after vaccination by measuring seroconversion rates of total anti-SARS-CoV-2 S1/S2 IgG (SC), geometric mean titers of anti-S1/S2 IgG (GMT), factor-increase in GMT (FI-GMT), frequency of neutralizing antibody (NAb), and median neutralizing activity. Physical activity (active being defined as ≥ 150 min/week) and sedentary behavior (>8h/day) were assessed by questionnaire.

Results: Physically active ARD patients (n = 494) were younger and less frequently used prednisone/biologics than inactive patients (n = 404). After controlling for covariates, active patients exhibited greater SC (OR: 1.4 [95%CI: 1.1-2.0]), GMT (32% [95%CI: 8.8-60) and FI-GMT (33% [95%CI: 9.6-63%]) vs. inactive. Cluster analysis (physical activity/sedentary status) revealed greater GMT (43.0% [95% CI: 11.0-84.0%) and FI-GMT (48.0% [95%CI: 14.0-92.0%]) in active/non-sedentary vs. inactive/sedentary ARD patients. A dose-response was observed, with greater benefits for the group of patients performing ≥ 350 min/week of physical activity (OR: 1.6 [95%CI: 1.1-2.4]; 41% [95%CI: 10-80%]; 35% [95%CI: 4.3-74], for SC, GMT, and FI-GMT, respectively) vs. the least active group (≤30 min/week). Greater SC (OR: 9.9 [95%CI: 1.1-89.0]) and GMT (26% [95%CI: 2.2-56.0%]) were observed in active vs. inactive non-ARD.

Conclusions: A physically active lifestyle may enhance SARS-CoV-2 vaccine immunogenicity, a finding of particular clinical relevance for immunocompromised patients.

Trial registration: #NCT04754698.

Keywords: Coronavirus; Exercise; Lifestyle; SARS-CoV-2; Sedentary behavior.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase IV

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19*
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rheumatic Diseases*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vaccines, Inactivated


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Inactivated

Associated data