This study tested the benefits of combined aerobic and resistance exercise training (CARET) in HIV-infected individuals receiving antiretroviral therapy. Twenty-three human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected men and women, predominantly of lower socioeconomic status (SES), were randomly assigned and completed 12 weeks of: (a) standard medical treatment plus CARET or (b) standard medical treatment only. At baseline and follow-up, immune functioning, metabolic variables, quality of life (QoL), physical characteristics, and physical fitness were measured. The control group showed a significant decrease in CD4+ T cell count (-16%, p<0.05), whereas the exercise group maintained a more stable count after the intervention (-3%, p=0.39). Furthermore, exercise participants showed significant improvements in waist circumference (-2%, p<0.05), fasting glucose (-16%, p<0.05), physical (+11%, p<0.03) and mental (+10%, p<0.02) QoL, estimated VO2max (+21%, p<0.01), upper body strength (+15%, p<0.05), and lower body strength (+22%, p<0.05). Our 12-week, supervised, moderate-intensity CARET program resulted in more stable CD4 count and significant health improvements in HIV-infected individuals of lower SES.
Key words: Antiretroviral therapy, aerobic and resistance exercise training, immune functioning, quality of life.
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