HIV and Exercise

January 8, 2020

What is HIV HIV was first recognised in 1981 in United States and since then it has become a major worldwide epidemic. The epidemic has continued to rise and now it is among the leading killer. It’s estimated that 42 million people are living with HIV/AIDS throughout the world today.

HIV stands for Human immunodeficiency virus, it’s the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Once you get HIV you have it for life, your body immune system can’t get rid of it. HIV attacks your immune system that fights off infections and diseases, this makes the immune system weak. The opportunistic infections such as  bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, other microbes and cancers take advantage of the weak immune system. This often leads to the later stage of HIV infection which is AIDS.

HIV occurs through several avenues such as: unprotected sex with infected partner. The virus enters through vagina, penis, rectum or oral sex. It can also spread through sharing injection, this tend to be among drug users exchanging small amount of blood through the needle.
However  HIV can’t be transmitted through saliva, sweat, tears, urine, sharing food utensils, towels and bedding, swimming pools, telephones or toilet seat. Bitting insects such as mosquitoes or bedbugs do not spread HIV.

HIV affects the body/ muscles, the virus actively multiples, infects and kills cells of the immune system. As the immune system worsens, other complications start to take over. The complications that take over are: muscle loss, weight loss, weak bones, lack of energy, frequent fevers, sweats, persistent skin rashes or flaky skin.

HIV can be controlled with proper medical care and tailored exercise program. People living with HIV are put on antiretroviral therapy or ART with a tailored exercise program . The therapy and exercise can prolong the lives of people infected with HIV, greatly lowering their chances of infecting others. The infected person on the treatment and exercise program can live for as long as someone without HIV.

People with HIV need to exercise, Its important for people living HIV to exercise because: increases muscle mass and prevents muscle loss, strengthen the bones, increases energy levels, increases fitness, increases flexibility, increases endurance, reduces fatigue, increases blood circulation, improves appetite, reduces fat around the abdomen, improves quality of life, helps in improving psychological coping, enhances quality of life, reduces stress and depression.

The new HIV drugs are allowing people to live longer. People with HIV start to experience medical problems that are related to ageing. They should continue to do physical activities to lower the risk of getting: breast cancer, heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke.

Precautions an HIV person should take. Guidelines have shown that an aerobic and progressive resistance program to be beneficial to the people living with HIV/AIDS. The exercise program should be tailored to each individual after the individual has been properly screened. The focus of the program should be addressing the stages of the disease.

The recommended exercises for people living with HIV are cardiorespiratory (aerobics) and musculoskeletal (resistance training) The physical activities or exercises recommended should get the body moving. Physical activities that can be done are: house cleaning, carrying shopping bags, stocking shelves at home, home gardening, walking, dancing, riding a bicycle.

The exercises should be tailored to the individual, planned and done 3-5 times of the week for fun and enjoyment purposes. Outline of the session, every sessions you should start with warm up and dynamic stretches to loosen the muscle and joints. The warm up should not tire the individual but prevent the risk of joint or muscle injury. The warm up can be done by using recumbent bike, treadmill 5-10mins. Once the warm up is achieved resistance training should be followed. The resistance training should target major muscle groups such as hamstring, thighs muscles, chest and back muscles. Its advisable to start with machine based exercises such as: seated leg curls, seated leg extension, pec deck and Lat pull machine; 3 sets of 10 repetitions each exercise. Progression from machine based exercises should be free weights and body exercises such as Dumbbells, barbells, press ups, inverted rows and others machines. The final part of the workout should be cool down to bring the body back to the normal state. You should use the treadmill or bike for up to 5mins, the key is to start from where you left off on the warm up (high intensity to low intensity).

Exercises an HIV person shouldn’t do: Vigorous exercises should not be done, these will cause the HIV person to be tired or very exhausted and his/her recovery might take longer.The HIV person should avoid exercises such as: football, boxing, wrestling, basketball as these can lead to HIV transmission through mucous membranes of a healthy athlete is exposed to the blood of the infected athlete

Other tips for an HIV person: Drink loads of water, before, during and after the exercise program
Eat well: exercises causes micro tears in the body. Eating a balanced diet will help repair the muscle and produce more muscle mass
Sleep: get plenty of sleep as this help repair the body.
After the exercise program you will feel more energetic and happy.
If you are sick or have a cold, take a break from the exercises


Leave a Reply