Even with the best antiretrovirals, exercise is crucial for optimal long-term PWA health. Working out boosts and maintains the muscle cells that supply critically important energy to CD4 cells. It may also reduce the potential for lipodystrophy—the unusual redistribution of body fat seen in many PWAs on protease inhibitors. Muscles’ favorite form of exercise? Weight training. Below is a simple program for those with access to weights. (Those without can use the alternate exercises in parentheses.)

  1. Consult your doctor or a skilled trainer before beginning strenuous exercise.
  2. Warm up with arm and leg stretches, then two light weight sets of 12 repetitions each, followed by two heavy sets of 10 hard repetitions. (Heavy means a weight you can’t lift more than 10 times. Light means half as much weight as heavy.)
  3. If doing alternate exercises, perform six sets of 10 repetitions of each.
  4. To avoid immune-stressful overtraining: Rest two to three minutes between each set; limit sessions to 45 minutes; rest for at least one day between training days.

  • Barbell bench press, for the chest
  • Dumbell side lateral raises, for the shoulders
  • Triceps cable push-downs (push-ups)


  • Seated lat cable pull-downs to the stomach, using narrow grip, for the back Barbell biceps curls (chin-ups from a doorway or overhead bar)
  • Whether using weights or alternate exercises, do stomach crunches, three sets of 12
  • Squats or leg presses, for legs and butt
  • Lying machine leg curls, for hamstrings
  • Machine calf raises
  • (Deep knee bends, holding gallon water bottles, if possible)

For more details on these exercises and others, obtain The Gold’s Gym Training Encyclopedia (Contemporary Books/Chicago), available at 800.496.8734.