Sedentary people living with HIV have "remarkably poor" cardiorespiratory fitness that continues to decline over time and appears to be associated with chronic inflammation, a study published in AIDS found. Although a group intervention did not improve cardiorespiratory fitness, even light physical activity such as walking had a positive effect, study findings indicated.
Researchers measured markers of oxygen consumption, such as VO2 peak, in 107 virally suppressed participants at baseline and again six months later. All participants wore accelerometers that measured their physical activity beyond the research site. Half attended six group sessions on diet and exercise, during which they were advised on how to incorporate lifestyle changes into their own lives. The other half attended a single education session on healthy behaviors.
At study end, VO2 peak had declined among all participants, and the measure did not differ significantly between the arms. However, walking an additional 10,000 steps per day improved VO2 peak in either group. The decline in VO2 peak was associated with Interleukin-6, a marker of inflammation that, in turn, may be related to HIV itself.
Study authors called for more research into this complex relationship. Meanwhile, HIV providers should routinely assess their patients' cardiorespiratory fitness and encourage walking as a simple lifestyle change, the authors recommended.