HIV and Health

A long time in the past, an HIV diagnosis meant illness and a shorter life. Exercise wasn’t even a part of the dialog.

Right now, HIV is extra of a lifelong illness than a life-threatening one.

“In large part, due to the good medications we have now, the lifespan for people with HIV is close to that of people without HIV,” says David Hardy, MD, a scientific and medical advisor for the American Academy of HIV Drugs.

That makes train a necessary a part of the dialog. Dwelling longer means taking good care of your physique for the lengthy haul.

“Exercise is medicine,” says train physiologist Joe Cannon. “It offsets depression, stimulates your immune system, and can make your microbiome, or the bacteria that live in your large intestines, healthier. If you could put exercise in a pill, everyone would take it.”

Advantages of Train for Individuals Who Have HIV

People who find themselves HIV-positive are extra probably than others to have diabetes, coronary heart illness, and threat elements for these situations. Additionally, a doable facet impact of some HIV drugs is weight gain, which might additional elevate your threat for these situations.


This all implies that the benefits of exercise are simply as vital (or extra so) for you as they’re for anybody else. Train brings day-to-day and long-term advantages.

Every day physical activity can:

  • Enhance your temper
  • Aid you focus
  • Maintain stress ranges low
  • Make your sleep extra restorative

All of those are vital for ongoing good well being.

Over time, train helps you:

Transfer Extra

Regardless of the various advantages of train, a big quantity of people that have HIV don’t do it.

“Some people don’t feel good in their own body and think gyms are only for the beautiful people,” Cannon says. He says the stigma some folks really feel from having HIV might preserve them from gyms or from getting out and being lively. A scarcity of social assist might maintain them again, too.


For those who don’t really feel snug in public amenities, ask a buddy or member of the family to work out with you. This supplies assist and makes you accountable to another person for getting match.

Cash is usually one other concern. “Thirty to 35% of individuals with HIV reside at or simply above the federal poverty line,” Hardy says.

However health doesn’t must price something. And it doesn’t require a fitness center.

A strong train program has simply three components:

“Start with 1 to 2 days a week, 20 to 30 minutes at the beginning, then gradually up it to 3 to 4 days a week,” Cannon suggests. “This will minimize the pain you feel after exercise or activity you’re not used to.”

Power vs. Muscle

Earlier than efficient HIV remedy, losing syndrome was a problem. The illness makes use of your muscle tissue as a supply of power.


“Untreated HIV infection is a very active and calorie-burning process,” Hardy says. “The body would burn muscle tissue, and people wasted and looked very ill.” Right now, HIV drugs preserve that from taking place.

Nonetheless, muscle loss and constructing muscle could also be larger challenges for folks with HIV than for others. One small research confirmed that older adults with HIV lose muscle on the identical charge as anybody else their age. However, after they tried to construct muscle via an train program, they didn’t construct as a lot as people who find themselves HIV-negative.

However don’t be discouraged. The advantages of train transcend what you’ll be able to see.

“Muscle mass and strength aren’t the same thing,” Cannon says. “We put a lot of emphasis on what we can see in the mirror, but on the cellular level, a lot of things are happening.”

For those who’re simply beginning out, Cannon suggests one set of strength training workouts.

“For muscle to grow, you have to put it under some sort of stress or resistance,” he says. “One set of strength training exercises, like machines, free weights, resistance bands, or body weight exercises, will build strength. It’s going to take 8 to 12 weeks for your body to adapt. Don’t be in a hurry to progress to three sets. One set will build strength and endurance. You can get stronger but not look like a bodybuilder.”

Constructing Muscle With Dietary supplements

Supplements like animal or plant protein powder, creatine, and beta-hydroxymethylbutyrate (HMB), might enable you construct and preserve muscle. Most don’t have any interactions with HIV medicine, with one exception.

“One class of HIV medications we rely on very heavily now are integrase inhibitors,” Hardy says. “If a supplement contains calcium, magnesium, iron, or aluminum, it can lessen the effects of this HIV medication.”

Examine along with your physician earlier than you’re taking any dietary supplements. If you wish to take a complement with any of those parts, your physician might counsel that you simply area it out 2 to six hours earlier than or after you’re taking your medicine. That approach, each of them aren’t in your stomach on the identical time.

What About Opportunistic Infections?

You’ll be able to decide up weights on the fitness center, however you’re not going to choose up an opportunistic an infection (OI). That’s as a result of OIs come from inside you, not from sweaty surfaces.

“OIs come from the bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infections our bodies are already carrying,” Hardy says.


In folks with a healthy immune system, the physique retains these infections at bay, and so they by no means grow to be sickness. However in individuals who have untreated HIV or whose drugs don’t work, these infections can progress and make you sick.

OIs are much less frequent immediately because of efficient HIV treatment. The fitness center received’t change your threat for these infections. One of the best ways to forestall them is to take your HIV medicine.

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