5. Upper body

In this video, we will guide you through some exercises to help strengthen your upper body. This involves using your hands, arms, and shoulders.

Our upper body video has three different levels of exercise: one being the least movement, and three being the most movement. Pick the level that’s right for you.

It’s normal to feel a little bit tired after exercising. However, some people with Long COVID find that they feel very tired for a few hours or days after doing exercise and are unable to do their usual everyday activities.

This is called post-exertional malaise (PEM) and is common in people living with the effects of Long COVID. To avoid PEM, you should build up slowly and work at the right level for you. If you do feel very tired, this is a sign that you have done too much. Next time, slow down and move down a level, or stop completely and rest.

Don’t push yourself to do too much, too soon. Your body needs rest to recover and pushing yourself too much will not speed up your recovery, instead it will set you back. Listen to your body and work at a level that is appropriate for you.

Stop exercising if you get any sudden unpleasant symptoms, such as:

  • chest pain or tightness that’s new for you
  • feeling dizzy, nauseous, clammy or cold
  • feeling increasingly wheezy
  • general extreme fatigue
  • weakness in an arm or leg that is more than just a tired muscle.

Get advice from your GP or another health care professional if you experience any of these symptoms.

Call 999 if you or someone you’re with: 

  • has severe chest pain
  • is coughing up blood
  • cannot speak due to difficulty breathing
  • has lost consciousness.

It’s important to practice these exercises regularly, as this will help build your physical strength.

Make sure you've watched the introduction video before starting your exercise.

Read more about this course

In this video, I'll be guiding you through some exercises for your upper body.

This will involve your hands, arms and shoulders.

So this is the exercise called bicep curls and ideally we'd like you to do ten of these but if you're finding that difficult, you can always do five or three, whatever your body feels comfortable with and allows and then when you've done ten on one arm, then you can go over to the other arm and then try and do ten on this side.

Now if you find this difficult in standing, you can always do this sitting in a chair, it makes it a bit easier for you.

And if you're finding this too easy, you can always add weights, a bottle of water or any kind of tin and this will take it to the next level.

This is an exercise called punching, and we try to do ten of these.

If you're struggling with doing ten, it's always OK to do five or three, whatever your body feels comfortable with and allows you to do.

And if you find this easy you could try adding a weight, so a bottle of water or a can, for example, and this will take the exercise to the next level.

So this is an exercise called lateral raises so it's important to keep your back nice and straight and you basically lift both arms on the side of your body to a middle point, you don't want to go too high.

So that's it, just about there to the middle as your body comfortably allows.

And we'd like to do ten of these and if you find that too hard it's OK to do five, or even three.

In the next video, I'll guide you through some cool down exercises.

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We’ve developed this information with funding from Garfield Weston Foundation. The Foundation had no influence on the information, which was developed in line with our usual Asthma + Lung UK information production process.

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Page last reviewed:
Next review due:

We’ve developed this information with funding from Garfield Weston Foundation. The Foundation had no influence on the information, which was developed in line with our usual Asthma + Lung UK information production process.