19 August 2013

HIV patients get a lift from exercise

Regular exercise can give a brain boost to people with HIV, according to a new study.


Regular exercise can give a brain boost to people with HIV, according to a new study.

Trouble with memory and thinking, something doctors call "neurocognitive impairment", affects nearly half of people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It can interfere with the ability to do daily tasks such as handling finances, driving and taking medication as scheduled, experts say.

However, the new study suggests that exercise "may reduce or potentially prevent neurocognitive impairment in HIV-infected persons", according to a team led by Dr David Moore of the University of California, San Diego.

Their study included 335 people with HIV who were asked how much they exercised. They also underwent testing to assess seven brain functions commonly affected by HIV: verbal fluency, working memory, speed of information processing, learning, recall, executive function and motor function.

Those who got regular exercise were half as likely to show signs of impaired mental function as those who did not exercise, according to the study published in the August issue of the Journal of NeuroVirology.

The major benefit of exercise in people with HIV seems to be the reduction of risk factors that can affect the brain such as high blood pressure and abnormally high levels of fats in the blood, Moore said.

The findings add to previous research showing a link between exercise and brain health in people with HIV.

"Physical exercise, together with other modifiable lifestyle factors such as education, social engagement, cognitive [mental] stimulation and diet could be fruitful interventions to support people living with HIV," Moore said in a journal news release.

More information has more about HIV and the brain.

Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

HIV/Aids expert

Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria before working for an HIV/AIDS NPO in Soweto for many years. She was named one of the Mail & Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans in 2012.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules