Long COVID

Moving and getting active: exercise videos

Introduction

The exercises in these videos are at 3 levels. You will need to watch all 5 videos first, to work out what level you’re comfortable starting at. You can pause the videos at any time if you are watching as you do the exercises. It’s also a good idea to have a timer ready for some of the exercises – you could use your phone or a cooking timer.

Read a transcript of this video in:


Warm Up

Try to warm up for 5-10 minutes. The aim is to gently move your joints and gradually raise your heart rate to increase the blood flow to your heart, lungs, and muscles. This gets your body ready for exercise and reduces the risk of injuring yourself or getting suddenly breathless. Towards the end of the warm-up you should feel slightly short of breath and a bit warmer.

You can do the warm-up either sitting or standing, whichever is right for you.

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

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Lower Body

In this video, we will guide you through some exercises to help strengthen your lower body. This involves using your ankles and your legs. 

If you feel you can easily do the exercises at the level you have chosen, then consider moving up to the next level. If you feel like you’re struggling, move down a level, taking the exercises slower or doing fewer rounds of each exercise. You might do different exercises at different levels depending on how you feel. This could be different on different days.

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 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 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 the above or call 999 in an emergency.

Speak to a health care professional if you’re worried about any effects you’re feeling after physical activity. 

Practicing these exercises will help you achieve the goal(s) you have set for yourself. 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 a transcript of this video in:


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. 

If you feel you can easily do the exercises at the level you have chosen, then consider moving up to the next level. If you feel like you’re struggling, move down a level, taking the exercises slower or doing fewer rounds of each exercise. You might do different exercises at different levels depending on how you feel. This could be different on different days.

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 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 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 the above or call 999 in an emergency.

Speak to a health care professional if you’re worried about any effects you’re feeling after physical activity. 

Practicing these exercises will help you achieve the goal(s) you have set for yourself. 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 a transcript of this video in:


Cool Down

To finish your exercise session safely, cool down so your heart rate gradually returns to normal. The cool-down involves moving your joints and gently stretching the muscles you’ve used when exercising. 

Cool down until your heart rate and breathing have both returned to normal.

Read a transcript of this video in:

Planning how to use these videos to achieve your goal

Now’s the time to think about how to use these videos to achieve the goal(s) you’ve set for yourself. You might want to set yourself a number of days a week that you plan to do these or exercises or aim to practice them for a certain amount of time each week. 

As part of your planning, you might find it useful to decide where you will do these exercises, and perhaps let the people you live with know, so you can arrange for the room to be free. 

Do you need to set out a mat or some weights, like a bottle of water or a tin of beans?

Now you’ve seen all the videos, do you need to review your long-term goal?

Now, go to Tracking progress to get yourself started and work towards your goal. 

Next: Track Your Progress →

Last medically reviewed: June 2021. Due for review: June 2022

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.