An increasing amount of evidence is finding that exercise can improve the health of HIV-positive people and reduce the risk of AIDS-related illnesses by increasing muscle mass and improving heart and lung endurance, the Sacramento Bee reports. Many people living with HIV/AIDS have begun or resumed exercise regimens since the development of antiretroviral drugs in the 1990s, according to the Bee.

Archana Maniar, an infectious disease specialist and assistant professor at the University of California-Davis, said that HIV-positive people need regular exercise just like HIV-negative people. HIV-positive people are living longer and developing diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and strokes, Maniar said. "From that standpoint, exercise promotes their general wellness and increases their chances of avoiding those things," Maniar added.

A 2006 Massachusetts General Hospital study found that exercise helps manage the symptoms of metabolic syndrome, which some studies indicate as many as 45% of HIV-positive people have. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. In addition, a 2005 Columbia University study found that moderate exercise in combination with antiretroviral treatment leads to improved nervous system function and circulation among people living with HIV/AIDS. Many HIV-positive people also say they exercise for psychological benefits. "For me, the effects are more psychological than biochemical," Bob Katz -- a member of the Positive Pedalers, a cycling group with HIV-positive members in California -- said, adding, "Having a sense of self-worth, feeling comfortable in your body, is something exercising will do" (McManis, Sacramento Bee, 5/13).

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