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JFSF Vol 8, No 3, September 2023, p.188-194

doi: 10.22540/JFSF-08-188


Review Article

Resistance Training in Post-COVID Recovery: Rationale and Current Evidence

George Mills1, Enya Daynes1,2, Hamish J.C. McAuley1,2, Neil J. Greening1,2, Samuel Briggs-Price1,2, Molly M. Baldwin1, Sally J. Singh1,2

  1. Centre of Exercise and Rehabilitation Science, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre – Respiratory, University Hospitals Leicester, Leicester, UK
  2. Department of Respiratory Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

Keywords: COVID-19, Exercise, Muscle, Resistance training, Rehabilitation


During hospitalisation with COVID-19, individuals may experience prolonged periods of immobilisation. Combined with the inflammatory effects of the virus, this may lead to a significant reduction in both muscle mass and strength. Data from several long-term studies suggest that these symptoms may not fully resolve within one year. Owing to its effectiveness at inducing muscle fibre hypertrophy and improving neuromuscular efficiency, resistance training is of great interest in the rehabilitation of this population. This narrative review aims to identify the rationale and potential efficacy of resistance training for restoring physical function following infection with SARS-CoV-2, as well as evidence of its use in clinical practice. The studies included in this narrative review consisted mostly of multi-component rehabilitation trials. Of these, widespread improvements in muscle strength were reported using intensities of up to 80% of participants' 1-repetition-maximum. Evidence thus far indicates that resistance training may be safe and effective in patients following COVID-19, although its individual contribution is difficult to discern. Future exercise intervention studies investigating the efficacy of resistance training as a sole modality are needed.
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