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Increase Leg strength
Jan 17, 2013

AM 70 years old been HIV since 1999 & have good medical numbers.My recent problem is weak leg strength due to my lipodystrophy which is centered in the stomach area. My Doctor has not been to forthcoming in giving suggestions to this concern.I walk a great deal & am very active so I would be most appreciative to suggestions you may offer to my daily walk. THank you, Tom

Response from Mr. Vergel

Tom

Decreased leg strength is one of the most important variables measured when studying frailty in older people.

Several small studies have shown that frailty is common in older HIV+ patients. A review of premature frailty in HIV-infected persons

Frailty in the aged population has been defined as the presence of at least 3 of the following characteristics: exhaustion, slowed walking speed, low activity level, weakness, and weight loss. Some studies show that by this definition, HIV infection appears to accelerate frailty ; even while receiving effective anti-retroviral treatment, older HIV-infected men (and women) show reductions in exercise capacity, functional performance , physical activity, and grip strength.

One of the best ways to improve frailty is to increase leg strength. Leg strength will also help us minimize falls when we get old. And as you well know, many of us long term survivors may have low bone mineral density (BMD) . A fall is even more damaging to those with low BMD.

First of all, make sure that your thyroid hormones and testosterone blood levels are within healthy ranges. Go up the stairs whenever you can.

Stand in front of a chair or bench with your feet at shoulder's width apart, facing away from it. Place your hands on your hips. Squat down and lightly touch the chair before standing back up. A good sized chair is one that makes your knees at right angles when you are sitting. Keep doing this until you're fatigued. If you do over 22 squats, you have great leg strength. Anything below 15 tells you that you have impaired leg strength.

I will list a few other exercises that you can do at home (without equipment) or at the gym (with equipment). Be careful with keeping good form so that you do not hurt your back:

The Jug Squat Lower Body Exercise

Leg gym exercise videos

I think that leg strength is one of the most important health variables that will ensure our independence as we get older. After all, legs are what takes us around in our daily lives. Not having them work well will mean that we will need help from a cane, walker or wheelchair. Now that we are all getting older, I think we should all be working out at least our legs 3 times a week!

I hope this helps!

In health,

Nelson Vergel



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