Exercise is Medicine: What to do after an HIV diagnosis

July is National HIV Awareness Month. This is a guest post from Jim Rollince, looking at the role exercise and physical activity can play in livingwith an HIV diagnosis.

An HIV diagnosis can be devastating and life changing, but it does not mean that you should restrict your activities as severely as you might think. With the power of modern treatments today, most people can continue enjoying many of the same activities they enjoyed prior to their diagnosis. In fact, your doctor will most likely recommend that you begin to include exercise in your life if you had not been doing so previously. There are a variety of exercises which are particularly appropriate. Here are a few suggestions:

Stretching

Stretching is an exercise that many people associate with warming up, however stretching really constitutes an entire class of movements and strengthening exercises that develop and protect the joints. Do not be surprised if an instructor at a gym recommends a stretching routine that takes nearly as long as your workout. You want to protect yourself from injury so that you can continue to exercise and enjoy the benefits of good physical health.

Cardio Workouts

A variety of exercise can be considered cardio or aerobic workouts. Walking, running, swimming and dancing all have one element of their descriptions in common. If the weather is nice it is best to get your exercise outside, but home gym equipment like treadmills and ellipticals can be very helpful if the weather is poor or you’d rather work out at home. Improved cardiovascular fitness has been shown to improve everything from cholesterol levels to high blood pressure, and an appropriate cardio training program could only benefit anyone with an HIV diagnosis.

Resistance training

After obtaining medical clearance, those living with HIV would do well to engage in some form of resistance training twice a week or more. There are numerous types of resistance training, including free weights, machines, resistance bands or tubes, and even bodyweight-only. These exercises build muscle strength and increase muscle mass, which is important for people with HIV.

Why You Should Continue to Exercise

Exercise offers benefits not just for the body, but also the mind and spirit. Regular physical activity, whether a walk around the neighborhood or a calculated gym routine, can improve mood, increase concentration, and even alleviate the symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. Exercise works both directly and indirectly to help people feel better,
which is something that everyone strives for. Exercise is an important part of every day life and with a little work; those living with HIV can improve their overall health tremendously.

Jim Rollince is a member of the creating writing department of Gym Source, a seller of home gym and training equipment including treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, arc trainers and more.

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