Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Kinesiology and Sport Sciences (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Arlette C. Perry

Second Committee Member

John E. Lewis

Third Committee Member

Kevin Jacobs

Fourth Committee Member

Kent Burnett


Highly-active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has improved the prognosis of HIV-infected individuals. Unfortunately it has also been associated with impaired functional capacity and development of metabolic perturbations which increases health risk. This study tested the hypothesis that a combined cardiorespiratory and resistance exercise training (CARET) intervention may result in significant health benefits in HIV-infected individuals receiving HAART. Thirty-seven HIV-infected men and women, predominantly of lower socioeconomic status (SES), were recruited and randomly assigned to: 1) a group of moderate-intensity CARET for three months or 2) a control group receiving no exercise intervention for three months. At baseline and following the intervention, physical characteristics (body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, and blood pressure), physical fitness variables (estimated VO2max and one repetition maximum for upper and lower body), metabolic variables (fasting glucose and serum lipids), immune functioning (CD4+ T Cell count, CD4/CD8 ratio, and HIV RNA viral load), and quality of life (SF-36 Health Survey) were measured. Exercise participants evidenced increases in estimated VO2max (21%, p < 0.01), upper body strength (15%, p < 0.05), and lower body strength (22%, p < 0.05), while showing reductions in waist circumference (-2%, p < 0.05), and fasting glucose (-16%, p < 0.05). While the control group showed a significant decrease in CD4+ T cell count (-16%, p < 0.05) from baseline, the exercise group maintained a more stable count following training (-3%, p = 0.39). Finally, the exercise participants showed self-reported improvements in physical (11%, p < 0.03) and mental (10%, p < 0.02) quality of life. In conclusion, our study demonstrated that a three-month supervised and moderate intensity CARET program performed three times a week, can result in significant improvements in physical characteristics, physical fitness, metabolic variables, and physical and mental quality of life. Furthermore, the same intervention resulted in more favorable immunological responses following training in HIV-infected individuals of lower SES. Key words: Highly active antiretroviral therapy, HIV, combined aerobic and resistance exercise training, cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, and immune functioning.


Highly active antiretroviral therapy; HIV; combined aerobic and resistance exercise training; cardiorespiratory fitness; muscular strength; immune functioning.