Exercising Right with HIV
Exercise is good for the body no matter who you are. We’re animals, after all, and animals need to run, play and stay active. You wouldn’t let your dog sit on the couch all day long, so why would you be a couch potato? Exercise is especially important for those living with HIV. Not only can it help strengthen your immune system, but exercise can improve muscle mass, strength and endurance, help how your heart and lungs work, increase energy, reduce stress and increase your overall sense of well-being. Also, exercising regularly can stabilize or prevent drops in CD4 cell counts, increase bone strength, help you sleep better and increase your appetite!
Here are some simple ways to exercise right while living with HIV:
1) Walk more. Park further away from the store, get off the bus a stop early. Walk further!
2) Take the stairs. Skip the elevators and escalators, and climb those steps!
3) Proper posture. Walk with your chest out and head straight. Improving posture reduces stress on your lower back and joints and may even result in your attitude changing for the better.
4) Go outside. Take a walk, go on a picnic, just go outdoors. It’ll help energize you. Fresh air and warm sun is vital for a healthy body and mind.
5) Stretch every day. Stretch all your major muscles. Flexibility helps your joints work, which reduces stress. Make sure to stretch carefully and slowly.
6) Get your heart rate up. Dance, play a sport, go to the gym. Increasing your heart rate regularly is key to a healthy body.
7) Do aerobic exercise. Walk, jog, swim, bike. Do aerobic exercise 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes each time. This may help your immune function!
8) Relieve stress. Mind-body practices such as yoga, tai chi and meditation can relieve stress and anxiety while increasing flexibility.
9) Weight train. Several times a week, work with weight resistance. If you cannot afford a gym or your own weights, do push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups. This can increase your metabolism, giving you more energy.
10) Cross-train. Mix and match the above tips for best results.
Make sure you stay hydrated and drink water before, during and after your exercise. And eat well! This means lots of color on your plate with vegetables, beans and legumes, whole grains and fruit. A good rule is: if it didn’t come from the soil, don’t eat it. Now, start sweating!