Purpose: Thirty four HIV+ patients participated in a 6-wk aerobic exercise training program to determine whether exercise improved aerobic fitness, immune indices, and quality of life.
Methods: Subjects were assigned to three groups: control (no regular aerobic exercise), moderate exercise, and heavy exercise training. At study entry and exit (in each subject) we evaluated aerobic function with a symptom limited cardiopulmonary exercise test, immune indices with CD4 counts and Candida skin tests, viral replication with plasma HIV RNA measurements, and quality of life with a HIV+ population validated questionnaire.
Results: Aerobic fitness increased significantly in both exercise groups relative to the control group; immune indices changed very little among all three groups; however, the Candida skin tests (mm2) increased significantly in the moderate group; viral replication was essentially unchanged in all three groups; quality of life (QOL) markers improved in both exercising groups but not the control group. There were no opportunistic infections during the study.
Conclusions: Exercise training resulted in a substantial improvement in aerobic function while immune indices were essentially unchanged. Quality of life markers improved significantly with exercise. Exercise training is safe and effective in this patient group and should be promoted for HIV+ patients