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Exercise and HIV/AIDS

May/June 2004

AIDS Treatment Initiatives -- HIV/AIDS Buyers Club
139 Ralph McGill Boulevard NE, Suite 305
Atlanta, Georgia 30308-3311
Phone: (404) 659-AIDS; Toll-Free: (888) 874-4845

Spring is here and summer approaches! Go outside and garden, walk a dog, wash your car or ride a bike. There are many ways to include physical activity in your day and you don't have to run marathons to reap the health benefits of exercise. In fact, even moderate physical activity can stimulate immune function, delay or prevent wasting, increase strength and endurance, and help you feel better.

For those individuals needing inspiration or affirmation that exercise should be a part of their daily routine, consider these additional health benefits:

Exercise and HIV/AIDS


  • Increased muscle mass that can boost the total amount of energy your body produces. In turn, elevated energy levels can enhance the immune system even more.

  • Reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Some HIV medications increase the amount of fat in your blood, but exercise can help protect you against the associated risk of heart disease.

  • Decreased fatigue.

  • Regulated bowel function.

  • Improved mental outlook.

  • Increased bone density -- protection against osteoporosis.

  • Improved circulation, heart capacity and lung function.

  • Sound, beneficial sleep.

  • Stronger self-image and self-confidence.

There are two major types of exercise that can be beneficial for people living with HIV: resistance and aerobic. Resistance exercise (weight training) adds density and bulk to the muscles in your body. This type of exercise is probably the most important for people with HIV because more muscle = better immune function. Resistance training may include push-ups, pull-ups and deep knee bends, but is even more effective when weights are used. If you don't have access to a gym, be creative! Instead of weights, simply use common household items such as soup cans, books or milk jugs filled with water or sand.

Aerobic (cardiovascular) training involves exercises that increase your heart rate. These include walking, running, swimming or bicycling. Aerobic activity is not only great for the immune system, but it also decreases your risk for developing heart disease and helps with weight management. While aerobic training is not advised for individuals experiencing wasting or unintentional weight loss, these individuals can benefit greatly from resistance training.

In general, try doing some form of physical activity at least every other day. If you like to exercise daily, you might consider alternating the days on which you train aerobically or with weights. No matter what the activity, always warm up with stretching and aim for 30-40 minutes of exercise. If you are not already active, consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Start slowly and gradually increase the time and intensity of your workouts as they become easier.

Whoever you are -- the athlete, weekend park-goer, weight-loss seeker or the person who has yet to become physically active -- never underestimate your potential! The health rewards of physical activity are within your reach.

For more information, contact AIDS Treatment Initiatives (ATI) at (404) 659-2437. ATI has the resources to help you optimize your health through diet, exercise and nutritional supplementation.

This article was provided by AIDS Survival Project. It is a part of the publication Survival News.
See Also
Ask a Question About Exercise at The Body's "Ask the Experts" Forums
Ten Things You Can Do to Improve Your Physical Fitness
More on Exercise and HIV/AIDS