HIV and fitness


Decades ago, one HIV diagnosis it meant illness and a shorter life. Exercise it wasn’t even part of the conversation.

Today, HIV it is more a lifelong disease than a mortal one.

“It simply came to our notice then medicines Now we have, the lifespan of people with HIV is close to that of people without HIV, ”says David Hardy, MD, medical consultant and scientist at the American Academy of HIV Medicine.

This makes exercise an essential part of the conversation. Living longer means taking care of your body for a long time.

“Exercise is medicine,” says exercise physiologist Joe Cannon. “It pays off depression, stimulates your immune system, and can cause your microbiome or bacteria to live on your large surface intestines, healthy. If you could exercise on a pill, everyone would take it. “

Benefits of exercise for people with HIV

HIV-positive people are more likely than others diabetes, heart disease and risk factors for these conditions. In addition, a possible side effect of some HIV medications is weight gain, which may further increase the risk of these conditions.


All this means that the file exercise benefits they are as important (or more) to you as they are to anyone else. Exercise has day-to-day, long-term benefits.

Daily physical activity tin:

  • Increase your mood
  • Help you focus
  • Maintain Stress low levels
  • Make yours to sleep more restorative

All of this is important for maintaining continued good health.

Over time, exercising helps you:

Move more

Despite the many benefits of exercising, a significant number of people who have HIV do not.

“Some people don’t feel good about their own body and think gyms are just for beautiful people,” Cannon says. He says the stigma that some people feel about having HIV can prevent them from being in gyms or getting out of it and being active. Lack of social support can also slow them down.


If you do not feel comfortable in public facilities, ask a friend or family member to work with you. This provides assistance and makes you accountable to someone else for getting in shape.

Money is usually another concern. “Thirty to 35 percent of people with HIV live or exceed the federal poverty line,” Hardy says.

But fitness doesn’t have to cost anything. And it doesn’t require a gym.

A solid exercise program has only three parts:

“Start with 1 to 2 days a week, 20 to 30 minutes at first, and then gradually go up to 3 to 4 days a week,” Cannon suggests. “This will minimize the pain you feel after exercising or activity to which you are not accustomed.”

Force Vs. Muscle

Prior to effective HIV therapy, waste syndrome was a challenge. The disease uses muscle tissue as a source of energy.


“Untreated HIV infection is a very active, calorie-burning process,” says Hardy. “The body would burn muscle tissue and people wasted and looked really bad.” Today, HIV drugs prevent this from happening.

However, muscle loss and muscle building can be a greater challenge for people with HIV than for others. A small study showed that older adults with HIV lose muscle at the same rate as anyone else their age. But when they tried to build muscle through an exercise program, they didn’t build as much as people with HIV negatives.

But don’t be discouraged. The benefits of exercising go beyond what can be seen.

“Muscle mass and strength are not the same,” Cannon says. “We put a lot of emphasis on what we can see in the mirror, but at the cellular level a lot of things happen.”

If you are just starting out, Cannon suggests a set of files strength training exercises.

“For muscle to grow, it needs to be subjected to some kind of stress or resistance,” he says. “A set of strength training exercises, such as machines, free weights, resistance bands or bodyweight exercises, will generate strength. It will take your body 8 to 12 weeks to adjust. Don’t be in a hurry to advance to three sets. A set will build strength and endurance. You can get stronger but not look like a bodybuilder. “

Muscle building with supplements

Supplements as an animal or vegetable protein dust, creatine, and beta-hydroxymethylbutyrate (HMB), can help you build and maintain muscle. Most have no interactions with HIV medications, with one exception.

“One class of HIV drugs we rely on a lot now are integrase inhibitors,” says Hardy. “If a supplement is contained kicks, magnesium, iron or aluminum, can reduce the effects of this drug against HIV.

Check with your doctor before taking supplements. If you want to take a supplement with any of these items, your doctor may suggest that you space it 2 to 6 hours before or after taking the medication. That way, both are not yours stomach at the same time.

What about opportunistic infections?

You can pick up weights at the gym, but you won’t pick up an opportunistic infection (OI). This is because the OIs come from within you, not from sweaty surfaces.

“OIs come from bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infections that our bodies already carry,” says Hardy.


In people with healthy immune system, the body keeps these infections at bay and they never become diseases. But in people who have untreated HIV or medications don’t work, these infections can progress and cause disease.

OIs are less common today thanks to their effectiveness HIV treatment. The gym will not change the risk of these infections. The best way to prevent them is to take HIV medication.

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