Aerobic exercise benefits HIV-positive adults

HIV-1-positiveĀ individuals who exercise regularly can experience gains in endurance and improved body composition, according to a report in the April 13th issue of AIDS.

Aerobic exercise training has brought improvements in chronic health conditions ranging from cancer to coronary artery disease, the authors explain, and preliminary studies suggest that exercise training can also improve the health of individuals with HIV infection.

Professor Barbara A. Smith from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing in Birmingham and colleagues studied the effects of 12 weeks of aerobic exercise training on the endurance and body composition of 60 HIV-1-positiveĀ adults.

After 12 weeks of exercise, subjects were able to stay on a treadmill a mean of 1 minute longer than were control subjects who did not exercise, the authors report. Control subjects later increased their treadmill time by 0.7 minutes after undergoing 12 weeks of exercise.

Whereas exercise training brought an increase in maximum oxygen use (as measured by VO2max), the report indicates, the aerobic program had little impact on dyspnea or FEV1.

During their exercise program, subjects lowered their body weight a mean 1.5 kg and reduced their fat consumption from 35% of total calories to 30% of total calories, the researchers note. Exercise also had beneficial effects on body-mass index, skin fold (subcutaneous fat) measurements, and waist circumference.

There were no significant changes in CD4+ cell count or HIV-1 RNA copy number among the individuals in the experimental or control groups, the results indicate.

“Exercise is safe; it will increase endurance, and it will help improve body composition,” Professor Smith told Reuters Health.

Professor Smith suggested additional research targets. “More needs to be done with those who have lipodystrophy and its associated lipid and metabolic abnormalities,” she said, “and I think it would be important to evaluate exercise in light of skeletal muscle mitochondrial damage.”


AIDS 2001;15:693-701.

Source: Reuters Health

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