n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Aerobic capacity, muscle strength and physical activity levels in a group of HIV positive females : physical activity

Volume 13, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


In order to assess whether HIV has negatively impacted on the muscle strength and aerobic capacity of infected individuals, ten healthy, Black, HIV positive women (32 ± 6 years, median CD4+ cell count = 230 cells/mm3), all taking antiretroviral (ARV) medication, completed an exercise testing session consisting of a submaximal bicycle ergometer protocol, a lower-limb isokinetic dynamometry test and a hand-grip dynamometer test. Ten healthy, Black, age-matched HIV negative women (34 ± 6 years) completed the same exercise session. All the women wore an activity monitor, a subjective measure of physical activity, for seven days. There were no significant differences in the predicted aerobic capacity (), hamstring () and quadriceps () peak torque, hand-grip strength (), and seven day physical activity counts () between the HIV positive and negative women. There was no significant difference in the body mass index () of the two groups. We have shown that the aerobic capacity, muscle strength and measured physical activity counts of HIV positive women, despite their lower CD4 counts, were not significantly less than their HIV negative counterparts. The use of antiretroviral medication, despite reported side-effects, has not negatively impacted on their physical performance. We recommend that these HIV positive women participate in a structured exercise program to help maintain or even improve their current muscular strength and aerobic capacity; both essential for functional independence and quality of life.

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