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Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2011;66(2):261-6.

Effect of progressive resistance exercise on strength evolution of elderly patients living with HIV compared to healthy controls.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Hospital das Clinicas, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.



Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection worsens the frailty of elderly people, compromising their quality of life. In this study we prospectively evaluated eleven patients living with HIV and 21 controls older than 60 years and without prior regular physical activity, who engaged in a one-year progressive resistance exercise program to compare its effects on muscular strength, physical fitness and body composition.


Exercises for major muscular groups were performed 2 times/week, under professional supervision. Strength increase was evaluated bimonthly, while body composition, lipid and glycaemic profiles (only of those living with HIV) and physical fitness were evaluated before and after the one-year training.


The participants living with HIV were lighter, had smaller Body Mass Index and were initially much weaker than controls. However, their strength increased more (1.52-2.33 times the baseline values for those living with HIV x 1.21-1.48 times for controls, p<0.01), nullifying the differences initially seen. These effects were seen independently of gender, age or baseline physical activity. In addition, those living with HIV improved their fasting glucose levels and showed a tendency to improve their lipids after the one year training program. These effects were slightly more pronounced among those not using protease inhibitors, although not significantly.


Resistance exercise safely increased the strength of older patients living with HIV adults, allowing them to achieve performance levels observed among otherwise healthy controls. These findings favor the recommendation of resistance exercise for elderly adults living with HIV adults.

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