Exercise in HIV Positive
Physical exercise has a demonstrated value for improving health and as a supportive HIV treatment. For people living with HIV who are symptom free, vigorous regular aerobic exercise, lasting thirty to forty-five minutes, three to four times per week, provides a solid cardiovascular workout. Examples of this aerobic exercise include running, biking, dancing, aerobics classes, swimming, cross-country skiing, roller-blading, games like soccer, racquetball, or basketball, and use of cardiovascular machines such as Stairmasters, stationary bikes, Nordic Tracks, or treadmills.
An aerobics program conditions the heart and lungs, combats depression by raising endorphin levels, and in several studies actually raised CD4+ counts (an indicator of the strength of the immune system). One study showed fewer opportunistic infections and better coping with stress in a group of regular exercisers. However, marathons and other extreme endurance workouts have sometimes weakened a person’s immune system. Resistance exercises (using weights or machines) build muscle mass, help preserve lean body weight, and promote better health.
For those who are symptomatic or recovering from illness, it is important to discuss a specific exercise program with your health care provider. Physical therapists are trained to help develop rehabilitation programs. Regardless of your health status, always begin exercise gently and build slowly. In almost all cases, any exercise is better than none at all.
Relaxation In HIV Positive
Life is stressful. Having HIV disease is very stressful. Being a patient is stressful. Fear, loss, grief, and financial trouble can all be stressful. Studies show that people with HIV benefit from some form of structured daily relaxation, whether it is yoga, music, deep breathing, muscle relaxation, meditation, or tai chi. Multiple studies reported at recent international AIDS conferences have shown that regular relaxation decreases depression, improves attitude, and improves specific laboratory measurements of immune function. Other studies have shown that high levels of stress can weaken the immune system, which may lead to increases in symptoms and infections.
An obvious lifestyle change for any person living with HIV is to consider ending any form of substance abuse. Overall health and the strength of the immune system are significantly improved when certain substances are avoided. Terminating these substances may be one of the most difficult challenges an individual can face. Addiction is its won life-threatening illness.
Cigarettes smoking have been correlated with increased problems with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), as well as more frequent cases of cryptococcal meningitis (a fungal infection). Elimination of cigarette smoking restores the lungs’ ability to cleanse themselves within just a few weeks, with lung function continuing to improve over time.