for Veterans and the Public
Exercise for People with HIV
Regular exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle when you are living with HIV.
Benefits of exercise include:
- Maintains or builds muscle mass
- Reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels (less risk of heart disease)
- Increases energy
- Regulates bowel function
- Strengthens bones (less risk of osteoporosis)
- Improves blood circulation
- Increases lung capacity
- Helps with sound, restful sleep
- Lowers stress
- Improves appetite
Before starting an exercise program, talk to your health care provider. Consider your current health status and other medical conditions that may affect the type of exercise you can do.
Make sure you can set aside time for your exercise program. Experts recommend about 150 minutes (2-1/2 hours) of moderately aerobic activity per week. That means about 30 minutes of brisk walking, bicycling, or working around the house, 5 days a week. This amount of exercise can reduce risks of developing coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes.
If this amount of time seems too much, consider starting with 3 times a week. The important thing is consistency. This is an ongoing program and you will not benefit without consistency.
Types of exercise
Two types of exercise are resistance training and aerobic exercise. Resistance training, sometimes called strength training, helps to build muscle strength and mass. Aerobic exercise is important because it strengthens your lungs and your heart. You can read more about the types of exercise from the MOVE! Program.
Designing a program
The VA MOVE! Program can help you get started. You can join group sessions, work with a coach, and more. VA MOVE! also offers virtual classes. Visit the MOVE! website and talk with your VA provider to get started.
- MOVE! Website
VA's program to assist with nutrition and exercise.
- My HealtheVet's Physical Activity Center
Advice on how to get started and maintain healthy exercise habits.
- Physical activity information
From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Includes recommendations and guidelines for incorporating physical activity into your daily life.
- Fact sheet on nutrition and exercise for people with HIV
Includes tips on exercises for strength training, from the American Academy of Family Physicians.