You exercise in order to stay healthy and to minimize the effects of HIV on the body. You exercise regularly in order to be in the best position possible to face any sicknesses and setbacks that life throws your way. Being sick will affect your fitness program, your routine will be thrown into disarray and you will not be able to exercise while you are ill and during the time you are recovering. Illness is part of any life and it is important to treat it as such—in other words, not to panic. People get sick whether they are HIV-positive or not, and a flu does not mean that HIV is getting you. If you are hit with some infection or other health complication, it is important to give the body the time it needs to deal with it and to recover. Remember that exercise is a drain on the body and it is important not to divert energy away from the vital work of healing the body.
Other times it is not a question of being sick, but just low energy, a feeling of being subpar. Often these bumps in your health road are due to HIV and/or the side effects of drugs. Is it a good idea to exercise in these circumstances? There is no real reason not to, you just have to be the judge of your own body, and weigh up on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes it is better to rest it out. Listening to your body and knowing when to workout and when not to is a skill you need to perfect and integrate into your workout regime. Problems such as nausea and diarrhea can be treated with some medication and often can help you get through a workout.
It can be difficult to remain motivated when faced with these challenges. It can seem that despite your best efforts to maintain a good exercise program, illness and the body’s troubles get in the way. Ultimately this brings you back to the fact of being HIV-positive and how you feel about that. Sometimes minor illness, even tough it may not be connected to HIV, can bring you back to a feeling of being sick, an ‘ill person.' Here the psychological work you have to do to resolve your general feelings about being positive becomes very important. A feeling of being powerless over the illness or your body can often surface when the body’s comedies prevent you from living the life you want to live. In other words, it is important not to let your mind drag you to a hopeless place; keep what is happening in perspective.
Similarly, you may have to deal with unwanted and unexpected changes in your body shape. Though exercise can help to reduce the incidence of these body changes, they cannot be treated or reversed by exercise alone—indeed, the exact reason for why these changes in body shape and fat distribution occur is not known. These changes can be highly discouraging, especially if you are working out and doing all you are supposed to do to look after your body. Though exercise cannot make these go away, it is vital to keep moving, as a lack of exercise can certainly exacerbate them.
A common theme with all of these problems we have examined so far is that though they conspire to keep you from exercise, working out is in fact one of the best ways to deal with them. Listen to your body and get to know what it needs on all levels and become a good friend to it. It is, after all, the medium through which you experience the world.
John Dunlea is a certified personal trainer and Level 1 Crossfit Trainer. He can be contacted at email@example.com.