8 Benefits of Exercising With HIV

  • Enthusiastic man leaning on barbell at gym
    Make yourself a priority.
    People with HIV may feel like they’re juggling many different strategies to try to stay healthy. But if you have HIV, one of the best things you can do for yourself is exercise. Make it a priority to exercise regularly. Schedule about 150 minutes of exercise for yourself each week, and incorporate a mix of aerobic, strength-building and flexibility exercise to help you stay strong and healthy.

  • man-eating-lunch-at-table
    1. Exercise will boost your appetite.
    A lot of people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) struggle with keeping their weight up, even though they need those pounds to help them stay healthy and fight off infections. Exercise can stimulate your appetite. If you feel hungrier, you’re more likely to consume more calories. 



  • man-picking-up-free-weight
    2. Exercise can build muscle mass.
    As you get older, you start to gradually lose muscle mass, which means  everyone, even people without HIV, should commit to some muscle-building exercise on a regular basis. People with HIV have an even bigger challenge when it comes to retaining muscle mass.  Muscle mass will help you stay healthier and stronger, which can help you perform the regular tasks of daily living. 



  • woman-in-gym-holding-weight
    3. Exercise builds bone density.
    As you age, you also tend to gradually lose bone mass. HIV accelerates that process. You’re at greater risk for developing osteoporosis, which means you’re more likely to experience fractures of your wrist, spine, hip and other bones. Plus, certain HIV medications can also exacerbate your risk of osteoporosis. Exercise can help arrest that process and build bone density so that your bones remain stronger and sturdier longer. 



  • Man Jogging Outside
    4. Exercise improves your heart health.
    People with HIV may be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, and exercise can be a major weapon in your arsenal toward warding off heart disease. Make sure to incorporate regular aerobic exercise—consider walking, biking or swimming—that raises your heart rate into your weekly exercise routine, along with resistance training that targets every major muscle group.

  • man-with-bicycle-getting-off-train
    5. Exercise decreases your risk of chronic conditions.
    People with HIV may be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, and exercise can be a major weapon in your arsenal toward warding off heart disease. Make sure to incorporate regular aerobic exercise—consider walking, biking or swimming—that raises your heart rate into your weekly exercise routine, along with resistance training that targets every major muscle group.

  • Sleeping Man Being Woken By Mobile Phone In Bedroom
    5. Exercise improves your sleep.
    Exercise will help you sleep better at night, and that can make a huge difference in your health and well-being. In fact, it’s not exaggerating to say that getting a good night’s sleep every night might change your life. Adequate sleep can help you fight off infections so you get sick less often. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk for developing serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Plus, it can improve your mood and make you feel less irritable and less stressed out.

  • woman resting her head
    7. Exercise may reduce fatigue.
    Many people with HIV report feeling fatigued, which might even interfere with their desire to exercise. However, most experts suggest that it’s worth making the effort to try, even if you have to start small. In fact, it’s best to start out slowly with a moderate level of exercise anyway so you don’t overdo it and consequently give up. Exercise does help you build up your endurance, and if you stick with it, you’ll notice it eventually!



  • Confident Man Smiling and Looking Away
    8. Exercise may boost your immune system.
    Research suggests exercise may be instrumental in supporting your immune system—and as a person with HIV, you can use every advantage in that arena.

8 Benefits of Exercising With HIV
HIV

About The Author

Jennifer Larson has more than 15 years of professional writing experience with a specialization in healthcare. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and memberships in the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Education Writers Association.
  1. Exercise and HIV: Entire Lesson. HIV/AIDS for Veterans and the Public. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. http://www.hiv.va.gov/patient/daily/exercise/single-page.asp
  2. Exercise and HIV: Fact Sheet 802. Aidsinfonet.org. http://www.aidsinfonet.org/fact_sheets/view/802
  3. Exercise: Get Up and Get Moving. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/staying-healthy-with-hiv-aids/taking-care-of-yourself/exercise/
  4. HIV and Osteoporosis. National Institutes of Health. https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/education-materials/fact-sheets/22/62/hiv-and-osteoporosis
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Jan 22
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