Effects of Exercise on Aging among Older Persons with HIV -- Pilot Study

Investigator: Frederick M. Hecht, MD
Sponsor: Mount Zion Health Fund

Location(s): United States


This pilot study will test the feasibility and acceptability of a 12 week combined aerobic and strength training intervention among persons with HIV who are age 50 or older and do not exercise frequently, and its preliminary effects on aging-related outcomes . The study uses an randomized, controlled trial design and is intended to lead to a larger clinical trial with long-term follow-up. The intervention incorporates small group instruction from a trainer, a small wearable accelerometer to provide accurate data on physical activity, and real-time feedback to participants about exercise levels. The primary outcome measure will be changes in fitness, measured as change in maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max). The control group will receive a comparable exercise intervention after they complete 12 weeks of observation.

Approximately 40 individuals with HIV infection of at least 6 months duration who currently exercise infrequently will be randomized in a 2:1 ratio to either Intervention Arm (immediate exercise intervention program for 12 weeks duration), or the Control Arm (observation only for 12 weeks duration followed by treatment onset after observation is completed).

Persons assigned to the Intervention Arm will meet initially once per week with a personal trainer, and once per week in small groups with a personal trainer, for a total of two weekly sessions of assisted strength training. In addition, participants will be encouraged to engage in three sessions of aerobic exercise per week of gradually increasing intensity of about 40 minutes duration each, for the 12 week intervention period. Instruction in walking and running form and body awareness that may reduce the risk of injuries (ChiWalking and ChiRunning technique) will be provided to the Intervention Arm by a certified coach during three sessions over the course of the 12 week intervention period as part of the aerobic exercise plan.

Paid gym memberships will be provided for the 12 week treatment period for both groups (memberships for participants assigned to the Control Arm will not begin until the end of the 12 week observation period).

Data will be collected for strength training activity using the passive FitLinxx system at the study gym, and for aerobic steps and pace using accelerometers (Pebble by FitLinxx). Participants in both groups will be asked to wear accelerometers for the duration of the study period.