Benefits of Exercise
Studies have shown that exercise programs for people with HIV (about 6 to 12 weeks in duration) result in weight gain, improved body composition, improved lipid profile, improved oxygen consumption, and strength. Research suggests that exercise of moderate intensity and duration can decrease viral load and increase CD4+ count. Progressive Resistance Training results in increased lean body mass, increased muscle volume, and increased muscle strength which can counteract wasting or loss of body mass.
Combined resistance and endurance training have been found to reduce body fat and improve blood lipid profiles.
Research has shown the following benefits of exercise and physical for people with HIV/AIDS, including:
- A decrease in blood pressure
- A decrease in blood sugar / glucose
- A decrease in pulmonary hypertension
- A decrease in muscle atrophy, and
- A decrease in bone loss.
In addition, most studies have shown improvements in V02 with sufficient aerobic exercise compared to sedentary controls.
Perna et al performed a randomized clinical trial with 28 participants with HIV. Participants engaged in exercise including cycling for 45 minutes per day, 3 times per week, over twelve weeks. A control group did not engage in exercise. Although the sample size was fairly small, Individuals with HIV who engaged in aerobic exercise had significant increases in BMI, leg power, and cardiopulmonary function compared to those who did not engage in exercise.
Different forms of therapeutic exercise have been studied for Individuals with HIV. Research has specifically shown the benefits of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is identified as the most widely used and documented intervention for people with HIV. Research specifies improvements in the following:
- body composition,
- functional capacity,
- muscular strength,
- lipid profile,
- cognitive function,
- depression and anxiety, and
- general quality of life.
Benefits were observed after a 12-week period where individuals engaged in exercise training of moderate intensity. Individuals engaged in exercise and/or training on an average of three times per week.
Studies have shown that that resistance and aerobic training are both beneficial to people with HIV due to a reduction in risk factors related to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other conditions regardless of disease status. Research has shown that progressive resistance exercise and aerobic exercise results in increases in total body mass lean mass, and peak strength.
Research by Jaggers and colleagues noted findings of time-limited studies which demonstrated increases in cardiorespiratory fitness with moderate or high intensity exercise and/or physical training. The duration of training was between six and 12 weeks and included aerobic activity.
Research by Kelly O’Brien and colleagues showed after fourteen trials, a combination of constant aerobic exercise and progressive resistive exercise–for at least 20 minutes, at least 3 times per week, for a five week interval, possibly lead to significant improvements in cardiopulmonary fitness (maximum oxygen consumption), body composition (leg muscle area, percent body fat), and psychological status (depression-dejection symptoms).
Physical activity and exercise has shown beneficial effects on lipohypertrophy and lipid levels. The study by Trevisol notes the work of Segatto et al. which concluded a physically active lifestyle has a defensive effect against the occurrence of lipodystrophy related to HAART. Studies show that physical activity also supports the prevention of buildup of central body fat.