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When Is It Safe to Return to Cycling After the COVID-19 Vaccination?

The recommendations and guidelines of authoritative researchers on the safe return to cycling after the COVID vaccination.

The decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccination is difficult for some. Doing the necessary research to make an informed personal decision is essential, with potentially profound health consequences. Cycling after the COVID vaccination is a no-brainer for avid riders. The question isn’t if but when?


The consensus among healthcare professionals is that the vaccine’s effects are minor compared to the risks associated with contracting the disease. Still, cycling after the COVID vaccination does require thought and planning.


The cyclist must consider the side effects and the safest and most effective way to adjust their training plan before and after returning to cycling after the COVID vaccination. Awareness of what’s in store and careful planning is vital to a fast and uncomplicated return to riding.

Cycling After the COVID Vaccination Improves Effectiveness

It’s common knowledge that riding is good for us in countless ways. Did you know that regular riding before and after the COVID vaccination improves your protection? Add it to the list.


According to an October 2022 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine of 200,000 subjects, routine exercise enhanced the vaccine’s effectiveness. 


The active participants in the study were 25 percent less likely to be hospitalized due to the disease than sedentary individuals. Those who performed moderate activity for 150 minutes a week were three times less likely to be hospitalized when developing COVID.  


An August 2022 review in the same journal looked at almost 2 million subjects and found that exercisers were significantly less likely to get infected, be hospitalized, or die of COVID. The widely held consensus is that regular physical activity improves immune function. The growing evidence points to daily exercise combined with vaccination as the single most effective way to prevent severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Cycling After COVID Vaccination—The Side Effects

An athlete’s more robust immune system often enhances the inflammatory response. Knowing what to expect is essential for those considering cycling after the COVID vaccination. 


In a May 2021 study published in the German Journal of Sports Medicine, Researchers looked at the vaccine types before recommending vaccination in athletes. In one of the few studies on the topic involving athletes, the researchers highlighted that the COVID vaccine leads to more frequent side effects than other more established injections. 

It makes knowledge of the potential symptoms essential when forming cycling after the COVID vaccination training plans.

Individuals receiving Vector-based vaccinations, like Astra-Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson, saw the most symptoms after the initial dose. Subjects complained of fever, chill, and itching at the injection site.


Pfizer and Moderna, the mRNA-based vaccines, showed a more significant effect following the second dose. The studied individuals complained primarily of localized injection site pain, headaches, and fatigue.

Every athlete will respond differently, and the type and intensity of symptoms will vary. However, athletes should expect to experience the typical inflammatory response two to four hours after injection. In addition, the side effects are more pronounced for vaccination types requiring a second dose and boosters after administering the second injection. 


Even if an athlete doesn’t experience symptoms after the first vaccination, the immunity transferred will cause a heightened response after the second. For those interested in cycling after the COVID vaccination, it’s a sign that our body is doing what it should—working with the vaccine to develop protection against the virus.

How do we ensure we’re doing the right thing when it comes to training and riding?

Tips to Help Get Back to Cycling After COVID Vaccination

Sleep and Time of Vaccination Are Critical to Vaccine Effectiveness

Multiple studies show that sleep has a significant effect on vaccine effectiveness. The authors of a  2012 study published in the journal Sleep showed that subjects have a poor immune response if they slept less than six hours after receiving a vaccine. 

In a 2021 study, the researchers discovered sleep on nights before vaccination is critical, and the poor immune response lasts for months.

The authors of a 2021 study published in the journal Cell Research discovered that individuals that received a morning COVID-19 vaccination had a more robust immune response than their late-day counterparts. 

Cycling After COVID Vaccination Training Plan Adjustments

The COVID vaccine side effects are more frequent and intense than most others. Therefore, athletes should only plan to get vaccinated after a high-priority event or a block of intense training. 


In general, changing your training or riding routine is optional the days before receiving an injection. Of course, if you feel run down from a series of intense sessions, like your immune system has taken a hit, it’s best to take a day or two or rest before the vaccination. Suppression of the immune system could result in worse post-vaccination symptoms.


A sore arm is one of the most frequent complaints. It’s little more than a nuisance for most cyclists. It won’t stop the avid biker from cycling after a COVID vaccination, but these symptoms will.


Most athletes experience flu-like symptoms the day after vaccination. Individuals complain of feeling like a bus hit them and won’t want to lift their heads off the pillow. The fever, chills, muscle aches, and fatigue make cycling after COVID vaccination an easy decision not to make that day. High-intensity and volume training will make the symptoms worse.

Photo: TLBVelo photography

Conclusion—Cycling After COVID Vaccination is a No-Brainer

Thankfully, the symptoms are short-lived if you give your body the rest it needs. You’ll be back in the saddle in a day or two. The best advice is to listen to your body. It will tell you when to resume cycling after the COVID vaccination.


Use your knowledge of the potential side effects and how your body will react. The decision to get back to cycling after the COVID vaccination is an easy one. However, if you try to ride when you’re not ready, you may experience more prolonged symptoms. You will feel lousy longer, which means more time out of the saddle.  


The side effects and training interruption caused by COVID vaccination are much less risky or severe than contracting the disease. It will have a minor impact on your riding enjoyment, long-term training goals, and performance if you do it right.

What happened to you and what did you do?

What was your cycling after the COVID vaccination experience? Comment below! Your fellow cyclist wants to know.

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