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Types of Exercise for HIV-Positive People

for Veterans and the Public

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 these on the next couple of pages.

Resistance training

Resistance or strength training is important for people with HIV because it can help offset the loss of muscle sometimes caused by the disease. This form of exercise involves exertion of force by moving (pushing or pulling) objects of weight. They can be barbells, dumbbells, or machines in gyms. You can also use safe, common household objects such as plastic milk containers filled with water or sand, or you can use your own body weight in exercises such as push-ups or pull-ups. The purpose of resistance training is to build muscle mass.

Use the correct amount of weight for the exercise you are performing. You should not feel pain during the exercise. When starting a resistance training program, you should feel a little sore for a day or two, but not enough to limit your regular activities. If you do feel very sore, you have used too much weight or have done too many repetitions. Rest an extra day and start again using less weight.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise strengthens your lungs and heart. Walking, jogging, running, swimming, hiking, and cycling are forms of this exercise.

This movement increases your heart rate and the rate and depth of your breathing, which in turn increases how much blood and oxygen your heart pumps to your muscles. To achieve the maximum benefit of this kind of exercise, most experts recommend that your heart rate should reach the target rate for at least 20 minutes. It may take you weeks to reach this level if you haven't been exercising much.