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Exercise
Aug 22, 2008

I am a 22 y/o male recovered alcoholic. I was diagnosed with HIV 2 years ago however I just got insurance and treatment recently. As a result of my drinking, the disease has progressed rapidly. My current CD4 is 94 and my viral load is 162,000. My doctor started me on Reyataz, Norvir, and Truvada along with Bactrim and Zithromax for PCP prophylaxis and Ambien at night. I eat a well balanced diet with lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and protein. I also take a multivitamin everyday. What kind of exercise should I be doing to keep my body lean and toned? Also, given the advanced nature of the disease and the delay in treatment, do I run the risk of succumbing to an opportunistic infection like many did in the 90's when HAART was only made available to them long after they had been diagnosed?

Response from Mr. Vergel

Your CD4 cells and viral load are going to improve dramatically soon. Do not be surprised if you have CD4 raises above 200 in a few months. So hang in there! You are doing all you can now to get there and you are on prophylaxis to avoid opportunistic infections until you pass the 200 T cell mark.

If you have energy, I would follow a regular exercise program like this one I posted a few weeks ago (assuming that you do not have access to a regular gym):

Get a cheap pedometer that measures your steps every day. Try to reach a goal of 10,000 steps a day. In some studies, this level of cardiovascular exercise worked great to keep excess weight off and to lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides.

There are also many home based exercises you can do without having to join a gym. Here are a few (from my upcoming book):

Wide-Stance Squat (glutes, quads)

If you do this free-standing, make sure your feet are wider than shoulder width pointing slightly out. Do a squat like you would in the gym, going down to just below parallel and contracting forcefully until you're standing erect. Ball squat: If you use a medicine ball or other large ball, take the same stance but point your toes forward. Place the ball in the small of your back between yourself and a wall. Lean back slightly, sitting back on your heels. With your hands folded across your chest (or outstretched in front of you, a more advanced variation), descend to feel a stretch in your quads, glutes and hamstrings, then rise up.

Side Lunge (glutes, quads)

Stand like you would for a normal lunge, with your body erect, hands on hips and feet pointing forward. Take a wide step to one side and lunge down until you reach a 90-degree angle in your knee. Press forcefully back up to the starting position. Do all reps for one leg, then switch legs.

One-Legged Chair Press (glutes, quads)

Stand on a stable piece of furniture, chair or stool, placing one foot firmly near its center and letting the other leg hang off to the side. Hold onto a doorway or corner of a wall for balance. With your chest out, go into a deep knee bend (like a squat) until your thigh is about parallel to the floor. Don't allow your non-exercising leg to touch the floor. Do all reps for one leg, then switch legs. This exercise requires balance and muscle control, and is a great thigh-shaper.

Chair Curl (biceps)

Do this immediately after you finish your chins which will put a nice workload on your biceps. Sit backward on a chair with your exercising arm over its back. Use a book, water jug or can for resistance and perform as you would a preacher curl. Do all reps for one arm, then switch arms.

One-Legged Calf Raise (calves)

With one foot placed on the edge of a stop or large phone book, slowly descend to a full stretch before rising up as high as you can, contracting your calf hard at the top. Do all reps for one leg, then switch legs.

Glute-Ham Sequence (glutes, hamstrings, lower back)

A great exercise for low-back health as well as for promoting balance and coordination. Lie facedown on the floor with your arms and legs extended. First, raise both arms and legs as high as they can go, pausing one full second while contracting. Slowly return to the floor and repeat for reps. With no rest, continue using your right arm and leg only, then repeat with the left side. The last part is the toughest: Bring your opposite limbs (right arm and left leg) up together, pause and descend. Alternate limbs on each rep.

Push-Up Sequence (chest, shoulders, triceps)

To maximize the work placed on your upper body, use two foot positions (down on floor and up on a chair) and a variety of hand placements. This hits the pecs, delts and triceps from a variety of angles. As your strength increases, add reps and decrease rest intervals between sets.

Part 1: Feet down, hands wide (about 6 inches outside your shoulders) Part 2: Same hand position, feet up Part 3: Hands shoulder width, feet down Part 4: Same hand position, feet up Part 5: Hands in close (palms about 608 inches apart), feet down Part 6: Same hand position, feet up.

Shoulder Sequence shoulders

Sit on a chair, preferably in front of a mirror to watch your form. Hold a book, water jug or a can in one hand and bring that arm from alongside your body straight out to your side to just above shoulder level, lower and repeat. Do a one-arm shoulder press before switching the book, water jug or can and repeating with opposite arm.

Abdominal Sequence (abdominals, obliques)

This is actually a giant set --- four exercises done consecutively. Start with a v-up on a chair (10-15 reps), then a crunch, then a reverse crunch, followed by a side crunch (both sides). Rest 20 30 seconds and repeat. Use a controlled motion for a short range of motion and squeeze your abs at the top for a maximal peak contraction.

Seated Calf Raise (calves)

Sit on a chair with the ball of one foot placed on the edge of a large book. As you push with your hand on the exercising leg for resistance, rise up on your toes and hold the contrraction for a count. Do all reps for one leg, then switch legs.

Pull-Up/Chin-Up (back, biceps)

You'll need a secured chinning bar or some other bar for this one. Do the first part of the set with your palms facing away from you (wide grip), then complete the set by turning your palms toward you (close grip), which will increase the involvement of your bi's.

Chair Dip (chest, shoulders, triceps)

Place two stationary chairs (or a chair and desk) with enough height and width to allow a dipping motion between them. Descend slowly to a comfortable depth and press back up.

Overhead Triceps Extension (triceps)

Hold a book, water jug or can in one hand and fully extend that arm directly over your head. Keeping your elbow stationary, lower your hand in a slow, smooth motion behind your head. Pause and press back upward. Do all reps for one arm, then switch arms.

Kickback (triceps)

Stand with one foot forward as you grasp a support with your non-working hand. Hold a book, water jug or can in your other hand, positioning your upper arm by your side, elbow bent 90 degrees. With your elbow fixed, press the weight rearward until your arm is fully extended. Squeeze the muscle and return to the starting position. No swinging allowed. Do all reps for one arm, then switch arms.

I hope this helps!

Nelson



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