Showing posts with label David Smith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Smith. Show all posts

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stonewall Fitness: Mmm, Chocolate Milk!

By David Smith

(Seriously, who doesn’t love chocolate milk?)

Chocolate milk has recently gained new momentum as being an ideal recovery drink for athletes and those who partake in various forms of intense fitness. Many athletes including Missy Franklin have touted chocolate milk as being an effective recovery drink, especially following an intense period of training. (Examiner, 2012) The idea behind this approach is that the chocolate milk offers a balanced ratio of protein and carbohydrates, which are important to recharge your glycogen stores in the liver as well aid with muscle recovery and regeneration. Many people do claim that chocolate milk is the best (legal) recovery drink available, but how effective is it compared to other kinds of recovery drinks?

Picture Several studies examine this question in various aspects, the first such study Chocolate Milk as a Post-Exercise Recovery Aid by Jason R. Karp, Jeanne D. Johnston, Sandra Tecklenburg, Timothy D. Mickleborough, Alyce D. Fly, and Joel M. Stager. Examines the effectiveness of chocolate milk as a recovery aid between two intensive and exhaustive exercise bouts. Taking 9, highly trained, male cyclists and putting them through an intense interval based training session with 2 minutes cycling, 2 minutes rest with increasing intensity until failure. Immediately following and again 2 hours after the session the athletes were given chocolate milk, fluid replacement or carbohydrate replacement drink. After a 4-hour recovery period the athletes then began cycling again and had cycled at an intensity of 70% of their VO2 max at the same RPM as the initial bout. Once the athlete could no longer maintain this RPM the test was terminated and the athlete was concluded to have reached exhaustion. The results concluded that those athletes with the best performance overall had consumed either the chocolate milk or the carbohydrate replacement drink. Those who had consumed the fluid replacement drink did not see any improvements in performance whatsoever.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Stonewall Fitness: Eating and Exercise?

By David Smith

When is the best time to eat and exercise? I’ve been asked this a lot and it’s definitely something a lot of people seem unable to find a straight (but not entirely :P) answer to.

Well a simple answer is to exercise and then eat.

As I am sure you know though, nothing is quite that simple so let’s break it down a little more.

No matter when you exercise, it is always good to follow a consistent eating pattern so that your body can best take advantage of the nutrients and calories in the food, help you exercise at your best and most importantly help you achieve your goals.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Stonewall Fitness: What the Gay Games Mean To Me

By David Smith

The summer of 2008 was a moment in my life where I really hit rock bottom. I was overweight and depressed and living with my parents at age 20. I was not really sure what to do with my life and had done nothing with my life. I really felt like I had no purpose. This really took a toll as I became very depressed, had no confidence in myself or self esteem. I also had no friends and no real reason to wake up in the morning. 

By the end of the summer I decided I had enough and was ready for a change. Watching the 2008 Olympic Games I became inspired to make a difference within myself.

For the first time in my life I decided take a chance and step forward. Right then and there I decided I wanted to be an Olympian. Watching the inspirational and amazing athletes participate in the event of a lifetime, to have the opportunity to be part of something greater than themselves really has put me forth on a journey that has led me to places and experiences I had never thought possible.

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Stonewall Fitness: Why I Don't Want, Or Need, Six-Pack Abs!

By David Smith

It's always been humorous to me when people see me and expect that I have a super ripped body, only to be a bit let down when they lift up my shirt and realize they have to scrub their laundry elsewhere. 

With the countless hours of training and exercise I do, it's a wonder that I am not a walking cover of Men's Fitness but it's not my focus or care. I often ask friends, clients, and even random people what their goals are for fitness, many of them gay, bi, straight, trans or whatever. The most common response among men, especially gay men, is that they want six-pack abs. They want to be ripped and have that nice body that our culture has come to expect. Like most gay men, I myself suffer from body image issues as well.

It is no secret that sex sells, which is why ads and marketing material often contain images of hot people with hot bodies, mostly nude! Every once in a while I will stop myself and look at my body. No matter how it looks to others or where I am at in my training, I often still see my old, 190lb self that I had long shed. Yet this journey has never really been about how I look, it's been about how I feel about myself and really about what I can do and accomplish.

For most people to get a six-pack one needs to follow a strict regime of diet and intense exercise. To achieve a body such as that you must rid yourself of all those little treats that life offers you. You sacrifice so much to have the perfect body, but for who? For the guy at the bar who won't call you back the next day?

I have never had a six-pack nor do I care to. 90 percent of my daily diet consists of healthy foods. I eat clean but I am also not afraid to treat myself to some naughty sweets either. I can train up to 5 or 6 hours a day but as an athlete training for the chance to compete at the Olympic Games, each mile I put in, each drop of sweat, is for that greater purpose. In the end my body is a reflection of my habits, my goals and my actions. It's a part of who I am. Instead of trying to please others, it's important that we think about ourselves. Your goals, your dreams, your passions. It should be about what makes you feel good, not what you think other people want to see. There's so much I could go on about this subject but for now I think I will end it here.

Stay active, my friends! 

David Smith is the owner of Stonewall Fitness, holds a degree in exercise science from Metropolitan State University of Denver and holds several fitness certifications including ACSM Personal Trainer and Group Fitness.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Stonewall Fitness: By, For, and About Denver's Gay Community!

David Smith, the owner of Stonewall Fitness, holds a degree in exercise science from Metropolitan State University of Denver, several fitness certifications including ACSM Personal Trainer and Group Fitness.

Smith specializes in exercise, nutrition and wellness programs for the GLBT community and leads a variety of different programs, including group fitness classes, personal training, athletic conditioning programs, educational seminars and workshops.

His passion lies in promoting the physical, mental and social benefits of exercise and healthy diet to the community by breaking down the barriers often associated with a healthy lifestyle to make it accessible for everybody.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Stonewall Fitness: Anti-Pro or Pro-Anti? I Don’t Get It… Let’s Eat!

By David Smith

A lot of our common ailments, diseases and issues that we face on a physical and mental level most often and easily are attributed to just a few basic things, what we eat and what we do, also known as diet and exercise. Now we could sit here for days reading about all sorts of different ways this all works but instead we’ll focus on one thing at a time.

Often times you will hear doctors, drug companies and your mother tell you it is important to take two Advil a day, for the rest of your life. They will tell you that it helps reduce your risk of heart attack, which in some aspects is true, yet why should you need to reduce your risk of heart attack when there is no need for the risk to exist in the first place?

Advil is an anti-inflammatory pill; inflammation is the swelling and expanding of tissues within the body and happens for many different reasons. When you get a mosquito bite, you form a bump and the skin turns red, inflammation. You injure your knee and it swells up, Inflammation. Headache? Inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s response and way to help you repair and recover from a variety of different reasons including injury and disease. However like everything else, to much inflammation can also be bad for you, often attributed to heart attack, stroke, diabetes, chronic migraines/headaches, acne to name a few.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Stonewall Fitness: I’m Gay and I Support the Sochi Olympics

By David Smith

If you are pro-choice does that mean you are pro-abortion? Of course not, it just means you are respecting another person enough to make the best decision for themselves, even if you don't agree with that decision.

I'm gay and I support the Sochi Olympics although some in the LGBT community have called for boycott.
I have chosen this quote from "Miracle" because it I find it helps to reflect well on our current debate. The athletes that are going to compete in Sochi, from all over the world are representing their countries and their cultures, in essence they are representing you on the world stage. The Olympics in Sochi are especially important for the LGBT community because there are many LGBT athletes who are going to compete in Sochi. Not just from the United States but from all over the world, each country with various laws pertaining to homosexuality.

As a world wide LGBT community, especially now it is important that we don't turn our backs on our brothers and sisters, many whom have trained hard and sacrificed so much, even their coming out for the chance to participate in such an event. It is important that despite an individual country's efforts to restrict LGBT people that we are there to remind everybody in our world and every single individual, no matter how small or big that we are a loving, caring, supportive community open to all. No matter what a person chooses to pursue, whether it's coming out to parents or competing at the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. We must stand together as a community and support each and everybody person who is representing the best of us in their unique aspect.

For an athlete, being LGBT or straight truly doesn't matter, all the athletes are there for the same reason, it's a place where the politics, race, sexual orientation, religion or anything else all disappears because each person represents all the best aspects of their country, many of which are the same regardless of where they come from. During the closing ceremonies, the athletes always enter the stadium not restricted by their own contingents but with the friendships they've been in only two weeks, with their teammates, competitors and even rivals come together because in the end, that's what counts. As athletes return home all those differences return, but for even just a short time it's a place where those differences don't exist.

Our community has long been a place where people who are different can feel welcome, we can't alienate those athletes who represent our community because what it means to feel bullied, ostracized and left behind by your peers is not one anybody should contend with, no matter the circumstances. Events like the Gay Games are so important because they celebrate inclusion, participation and community, thats what the LGBT community has always stood for. No matter the athlete competing for the US in Sochi, I will be cheering them on because they are succeeding at representing the best of us in their own unique aspects. 

For more of my perspective on this issue, please read two of my previous MileHighGayGuy
posts,  "Why I Support the Sochi Olympics" and "2013 Sports Retrospective.

David Smith is the owner of Stonewall Fitness, holds a degree in exercise science from Metropolitan State University of Denver and holds several fitness certifications including ACSM Personal Trainer and Group Fitness.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Stonewall Fitness: Health and Fitness for Gay Denver

David Smith, the owner of Stonewall Fitness, holds a degree in exercise science from Metropolitan State University of Denver, several fitness certifications including ACSM Personal Trainer and Group Fitness.

Smith specializes in exercise, nutrition and wellness programs for the GLBT community and leads a variety of different programs, including group fitness classes, personal training, athletic conditioning programs, educational seminars and workshops.

His passion lies in promoting the physical, mental and social benefits of exercise and healthy diet to the community by breaking down the barriers often associated with a healthy lifestyle to make it accessible for everybody.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Stonewall Fitness: New Year's Fitness Resolution? Here's How to Get Started, Part 2!

By David Smith

Stepping foot into a gym can be overwhelming, if you can fight your way past the high pressure sales people and personal trainers, you’ll find a large room full of all sorts of equipment that look like a medieval torture chamber, so where do you start?
Your body is capable of so much and so limiting yourself to only certain types of exercise will not only make it more challenging and limiting for you to reach your goals but can also lead to injuries, overtraining and pure boredom. Most gyms offer a wide variety of ways for people to be engaged and active. It all just comes down to your interests and goals, what works for someone else may not work for you and that’s perfectly okay. Don’t feel 
pressured to invest into something you simply don’t want or feel comfortable with. Take the time to try different things and see what you like; there are a variety of different options to choose from:

· One on one/ buddy training (personal training): One of the most common and helpful ways for you to learn how to structure a workout and step outside your comfort zone is to hire a personal trainer. Focused, individualized attention and program planning that is custom to your goals and capabilities as a person. A personal trainer can help you learn new exercises and even push you outside your comfort zone more so than you ever thought possible. Having that accountability of working with a trainer as well can help you stay motivated.

· Group Fitness Classes: Very popular format and a fun way to meet new people, it is a general workout that is designed for a wide variety of people and goals. There are many types of classes offered that all have their own particular benefits; they are more high energy, bring in a diverse group of people and can be a great way to really get engaged in a program.

· Small Group Training: Similar format to both group fitness and personal training. Consist of a smaller group, usually no more than 8 with a more focused and specific workout to the goals of the people within the group. More one on one attention but with the benefits and challenge of working with other people.

· Athletics: Adult sports are becoming much more popular, there are many leagues and teams out there of every sport you can think of. Whether it be a team sport or an individual sport. Getting involved is a great way to meet new people, get active and help establish more substantial goals for you to accomplish. There are a variety of leagues, and sports out there to choose from including Colorado Gay Volleyball Association, Denver Gay Flag Football, Colorado Frontrunners, Squid Swim Team among hundreds of others. It’s a great way to get in touch and have something in common with people, it’s fun and is a great way to set goals as well!

In the end, nothing beats just putting on your headphones and zoning out from the rest of the world, just you and exercise is all you need. These different things are great to help you add some variety and spice to your workout. Stay motivated and have fun!

David Smith is the owner of Stonewall Fitness, holds a degree in exercise science from Metropolitan State University of Denver and holds several fitness certifications including ACSM Personal Trainer and Group Fitness.

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Monday, December 30, 2013

The MileHighGayGuy 2013 Year In Gay Sports Retrospective:

By Todd Craig and David Smith

2013 saw hard-fought progress for LGBT equality on several fronts: in federal law books, in the church pews, and amongst the population as a whole for starters. Yet on the hardwood courts and the grass fields of the sports world where Americans prefer their athletic heroes with equal parts testosterone and John Wayne bravado, the discussion about gay rights and gay acceptance erupted like it never has before.

One of the biggest sports stories of the year, and the one that ushered gay rights to the forefront of the sports world, was the coming out of NBA basketball player Jason Collins. The story, which broke on the May 6 cover of Sports Illustrated, began with the line, “I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.”

Of course, athletes have been coming out of the closet for years, and coming out on the cover of a magazine hasn’t been unheard of either. Yet, none of those celebrities stood seven feet tall. Nor had they out-muscled the NBA’s best over the course of a twelve-year career on the hardwoods. None of those magazines happened to be Sports Illustrated either.

The story served as flash point for the sports media, athletes, and the country as a whole. Reactions twittered in from athletes all over the sports world. The vast, overwhelming majority proved positive and supporting. Even the story of writing the story became a part of the news cycle. Gone, it seemed, were the Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova days of tearful admissions, lost sponsors, and tabloid stalkers. The sports world, it seemed, had evolved.

Even before Collins had come out, Nike offered a sponsorship to the first openly gay athlete who is currently active, even going a step further by producing and selling products and merchandise to celebrate Pride and the LGBT community. From shirts to rainbow shoes, making a significant statement at LGBT and Non-LGBT events all year.

As the discussion reverberated throughout the sports world, more athletes and more sports became involved. Professional soccer player Robbie Rogers came out of the closet and then came out onto the field to play as an out and proud gay athlete. Orlando Cruz, a professional boxer, announced his orientation to the world before a big fight, even going so far as to pose in a rainbow pride undies at his weigh-in.

Rumors also swirled that the National Football League would also soon have its own openly gay player. Sports Illustrated's lead football writer Peter King used the Jackie Robinson movie 42 as an analogy to the trailblazing place where the sports world was with gay rights. His football website for Sports Illustrated even went as far as to detail two gay former NFL players’ lives, their coming out processes, and feelings about the out players playing in the NFL here.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stonewall Fitness: Why I Support the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi

By David Smith

Now that a lot of the hype and emotion of the Sochi Boycott has died down (or been forgotten about) and we are less than 100 days until the opening ceremonies I feel it appropriate to share my viewpoint on the Sochi Boycott. If you are quick to judge yet are not willing to read the article and open your mind to another perspective then please don’t waste your time, or mine.

Given that the Olympic Games are a world wide event and one of the few that can truly unite the world through a common purpose it is no doubt that such attention will always have it’s fair share of controversy, from the direct protests of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Summer Olympics to the indirect protests such as China’s occupation of Tibet during the 2008 Olympics. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Stonewall Fitness: Drinking Water or These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty!

By David Smith

Feeling a hangover? Your headache is most likely caused by dehydration and now your feeling the consequences. In fact the majority (if not all) headaches are symptoms of dehydration and lack of water intake. You’ll see lots of products and hear lots of people who all of a sudden turn into “experts” but in the end you need to drink more water!

There are a variety of factors that will lead to dehydration such as hot/ cold environments; high sodium intake (pretzels, get it?), high caffeine/ high alcohol intake, exercise and well … the reasons are endless. 

Headaches aren’t the only symptom of dehydration either, fatigue, lack of energy, bad breath, dry mouth, thirst, poor circulation, headaches, poor coordination, fainting, lack of sweat/ urine, sluggishness. Your body consists mostly of water so it’s important that you are constantly keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Meet the Men of MileHighGayGuy: David Smith of Stonewall Fitness

David Smith is an exercise professional and specializes in exercise, nutrition and wellness programs for the GLBT community.

His passion lies in promoting the physical, mental and social benefits of exercise and healthy diet to the community by breaking down the stigmas and barriers often associated with exercise and fitness to make it accessible for everybody regardless of anything. David does not spend all his time at the gym but chooses instead to go out into the world and find fitness opportunities in our everyday surroundings. Constantly learning and engaging with the community to better help realize that we all have potential within and are capable of accomplishing amazing things. David leads a variety of different
programs, including group fitness classes, personal training, athletic conditioning programs, educational seminars and workshops.

In his personal endeavors, He is also an active athlete having competed in swimming, taekwondo, triathlon and running events.

Highlights of his athletic career include winning 6 medals and setting a meet record at the 2010 Gay Games in swimming. Competing on the National Collegiate level in taekwondo and swimming, training to compete in his first full Ironman, having completed several half Ironmans and finishing his first Marathon. David currently swims with the Denver Squid Swim Team and is training for the 2014 Gay Games as well.

He is the owner of Stonewall Fitness, holds a degree in exercise science from Metropolitan State University of Denver and holds several fitness certifications including ACSM Personal Trainer and Group Fitness.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Stonewall Fitness: I Don't Just 'Work Out'

By David Smith 

When talking to someone, how they describe themselves can really tell you a lot about who they are - their goals and motivations, both good and bad. 

People will often describe their visit to the gym as "going to workout, do cardio or lift weights." The popular thing now days seems to be splitting your body into days, “leg day, chest and back day, arms and shoulder day” and the such. 

In my experience, such a perspective makes it easy to consider your “workout” as a chore, another errand or something that sounds absolutely tedious and boring. The program is essentially a to-do list and a tour of the machines at the gym. Not only is this lame and boring but it also makes it easier to pass it off to the side and skip when something more interesting comes along. If your “workout” isn’t important to you, then what’s the point?

I can train on my own up to 4-5 hours a day. This sounds a bit excessive to most people and I constantly have people who ask me how I can get through that without going crazy or getting bored. It’s all about perspective; what some people may see as two hours of cardio, I see as a bike ride to Lookout Mountain and back. 30 minute break? To me it’s a 30-minute power swim, trying to get as much as I can in such a short period of time. It’s 4-5 hours of training but not necessarily at once, at the end of the day I don’t even realize I put so much time in, thinking instead how productive it was.

So why do I “train” as opposed to “work out?" When I am training for something, I am working toward my goal, pushing my limits and challenging myself to be stronger both physically and mentally. Training gives me focus and direction on what is important to me. I am more motivated to make it to the gym, get on the bike run in the rain or get in the pool on a cold day. Even on the days when everybody else stays in, I still get myself up and out the door because unlike those who are “working out” I am still in training and every day is a new opportunity to be better than I was yesterday.

Training not only gives you more focus and direction in your fitness but also more substance, people who “train” tend to have more substantial goals. 

Fitness isn’t and shouldn’t be about losing weight, looking good, being skinny or any of those aesthetic goals. Fitness is about being able to do more, growing and working toward the things you’ve always wanted to accomplish., being better able to perform in your own individual strengths. Most importantly it’s for you, not anybody else. If I tell someone they can climb a mountain, they might look at me and laugh. That person will fail at fitness. The mountain is irrelevant. Because they think such a challenge is above them, they will never realize that they can in fact climb that mountain. (For the record I have already climbed 12 14ers in three years). 

In addition when interacting with people I think saying, “I worked out ” or “I went to the gym,” sounds boring and uninteresting. It’s a bit difficult to expand a conversation off that. It shows that you don’t seem to place much value on the experience, that it's something you’ll quickly forget about. If you aren’t doing something worth talking about, what’s the point?

I always talk about my adventures in exercise and training - to some extent maybe even bragging - but to me it’s important. It’s an aspect of my life I choose to share and hope to inspire people with. 

The hours I spend training, whether it’s one hour or four hours each contribute to helping me succeed in my goals and give me a reason to get up and go every day. It makes me happy and excited, it’s what gives me purpose and most importantly it’s what I love. I am not trying to prove anything to anybody. Sure, I share the experiences but if someone chooses not to listen, it does not affect me in any way. The only people who do listen are the ones who truly care and want to see me succeed. 

Many of the people in my life are starting to discover this for themselves; they might not train at the same level as me but what they’re doing is important to them. They are challenging themselves and getting excited over the prospect of accomplishing their goals, anything from finishing a 10k to competing at the Gay Games, being able to compete as a body builder to training for the AIDS Lifecycle, or even just being able to continue to function and live independently as you age. I am always inspired to see people undertake such a profound and exciting step forward on their journey. When you begin to see progress, it gives you a new sense of motivation and you realize you truly can do more, as you inch closer to your goals and gain a whole new perspective on the world around you. Whatever your goals are they need to be personal for you.

You can truly accomplish anything but you will not succeed until you truly believe in yourself.

David Smith is the owner of Stonewall Fitness, holds a degree in exercise science from Metropolitan State University of Denver and holds several fitness certifications including ACSM Personal Trainer and Group Fitness.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Stonewall Fitness: Engaging Exercises for Efficient People

By David Smith

One of the biggest things you will hear in regards to fitness and exercise is “functional fitness” which is essentially exercises and workouts designed to help you better function within your daily life. This term is often targeted toward the older population but it applies to everybody regardless of age or activity level.

However upon a visit to a big box gym you will find it is not at all designed to promote functional fitness and in the end people end up wasting a lot of time doing exercises and workouts that won’t do anything in your life outside of the gym. For example the famous Abduction/Adduction machine (where you don’t make eye contact with anybody machine) is popular to use however the movement and benefits of that exercise do not do anything for you in your daily life. (Unless you sit in your chair all day pushing and squeezing things around by opening and closing your legs) so your essentially wasting your time doing a lot of exercises that aren’t really effective.

Not only do machines like these isolate specific muscles but also involve movements that you simply won’t normally do in your daily life. When you are training it is good to target as many muscle groups as you can at once. Not only will this challenge you on a new level but also will burn more calories, better train you for the demands of your life, make you a more effective and stronger person outside of the gym and help you reach your goals much quicker. A good example of an exercise that engages many muscle groups is a squat and press with dumbbells. By holding the dumbbells at your shoulder, performing the squat and on the upwards doing the press you are engaging your glutes, quadriceps, core (back extensors, obliques, abs, transverse abdominis), chest, shoulders, arms, forearms and all the stabilizer muscles in those areas. 

Not only is this more engaging for you but in the time it would take you to do 1 set of squats and 1 set of shoulder press separately you can easily pump out 2-3 sets of the squat and press. As well think about how effective this exercise will be in your daily life. Simply lifting and carrying a box requires all the same muscle groups you are targeting to work together at the same time. There is no use in training them separately just to try and use them together.

Remember it also burns more calories and can help you achieve your goals much quicker! Combining upper, lower body and core exercises can help you do more at once and make better use of your limited time at the gym. Every exercise you do should engage your core, the way to engage your core is simply to suck it in, as in pull your belly button into your spine like your trying to fit into some tight pants. It is essentially doubling your workout, and doubling the amount of calories you burn in the same amount of time! Who wouldn’t love that? 

So are you ready to check out these exercises?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Stonewall Fitness: Exercise and Living with HIV/AIDS

By David Smith
First, a few caveats:

*Always make sure to consult your physician prior to engaging in any exercise program and to select a program that is inline with your treatment

**You know your body best, listen to it and take it at your pace, be careful and know how hard you can push yourself.

***Ensure you are taking all precautions prior to sexual activity to protect yourself. The best treatment is prevention. Get tested and know your status as well as your partner’s status. For more information visit

HIV/AIDS has had a huge impact on the GLBT community. Today over 1.3 million people (World Health Organization 2011) are living with HIV/AIDS and there have been many advancements in educational, prevention and treatment services offered that have turned the disease from a death sentence to a manageable condition that is, hopefully, on the verge of a cure.

Living a healthy lifestyle and exercising regularly can have many benefits for people who live with HIV/AIDS. Diver Greg Louganis was diagnosed with HIV shortly before the 1988 Olympics, he stated in his book Breaking the Surface that he was afraid he would be too sick to compete and almost called it quits. However the fact that he was exercising regularly and staying consistent with a healthy diet not only helped to keep the virus at bay but to keep his immune system strong, to the point he was able to fight off other infections such as the flu a lot quicker than his HIV negative teammates.

HIV/AIDS is a virus that targets the immune system; it essentially attacks and breaks down the immune system making it much weaker and unable to fight off other infection. Many of the illness and death attributed to HIV/AIDS actually come from other viruses and infection such as pneumonia and shingles.

Two physical conditions associated with HIV/AIDS are lipodystrophy and muscular atrophy. Lipodystrophy is a change in how the body stores, processes and utilizes fat. It can lead to rapid and unhealthy weight loss or weight gain and significantly manipulating your fat stores at a dangerous level. This is unhealthy as it can affect your intake of fat-soluble vitamins as well as lead to an increased risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, stroke and diabetes. The specific cause is unknown but it is believed that HIV/AIDS combined with other factors such as age, race and sex play a significant role.

Muscular atrophy is the wasting away of muscle, both in strength and the muscle tissue itself which becomes more and more diminished. This leads to reduced strength and functionality, it also significantly increases your risk of injury ranging from fractures on the bone, decreased bone strength, joint issues, inflammation of tendons and ligaments and can increase risk of infection.

Both of these conditions can lead to physical exhaustion and fatigue as well as mental conditions including depression, anxiety, increased stress and body image issues.

There has been inconsistent research in regards to specific benefits to exercise for people with HIV/AIDS but as more studies are being done we are constantly learning new information on how exercise can supplement a treatment program.
At AIDS Walk Colorado 2013
Exercise has consistently shown to help control and maintain healthy body composition with the efficient processing and storage of fat and fat-soluble vitamins. By maintaining a constant, healthy percentage of body fat you immediately reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and other metabolic, cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. Partaking in a consistent exercise program as suitable to your condition can be beneficial in helping your body maintain a regular and healthy function. This is best accomplished by partaking in aerobic or cardio-based exercise programs. Depending on what your goals are these may include long duration exercise at a moderate intensity (walking, jogging, swimming, cycling) or higher intensity shorter duration exercises (High intensity interval training, sprinting). Both types have been shown to reduce fat and help maintain a healthy body fat percentage. 

Exercise also helps you strengthen and maintain a strongimmune system, through the constant engagement of your body’s system it can help fight off bacterial and viral infections.

Resistance training can have a significant effect on reducing and even reversing muscular atrophy. By keeping the muscles constantly engaged and working, you are strengthening the muscles; they become stronger, bigger and more efficient. Not only that but weight bearing exercises have been shown to increase bone density, making your bones stronger and better able to hold the weight.  This helps maintain strong joints and bones to allow you to function and perform at a higher level as well maintain your physical health and quality of life for a much longer period of time. It also significantly reduces your risk or injury as you will better be able to recover and not be harmed as easily during impact. Resistance training does not only include weight lifting but body weight exercises, resistance bands and just about anything you can come up with that involves an increased weight load.

Core training, agility and flexibility training are also very important, as they will improve your balance, coordination and flexibility. Helping your body to become more functional, better able to hold yourself in unstable environments as well as always keep your mind sharp and focused to better able to respond at the task at hand. Check out different programs including yoga, Pilates and Zumba are great ways to keep your core and mind engaged.

Exercise in all forms essentially challenges and pushes the body, it keeps you engaged and constantly changing the stimulation placed upon the muscles, bones, nervous system and mind. You know the feeling of being sore after a challenging workout? Your body is essentially broken down and ripped apart on the inside from the exercise at hand, however it regenerates and rebuilds itself to be stronger and more efficient, able to better handle the task at hand. This is why it’s important to keep changing your workout and pushing yourself to the next level; it’s also why what may seemed hard last week is suddenly much easier this week. It essentially has the same effect on the immune system, it helps to break it down and rebuild it to be stronger and more efficient in handling the combat of infectious diseases and viruses.

Exercise also has a wide variety of mental and psychological benefits. Living with HIV/AIDS can be just as hard on the mind as it is on the body. The two are connected to each other and maintaining a healthy mind is just as important as maintain a healthy body. Depression, self esteem and confidence issues as well as stress and eating disorders are all common issues people have, not only that but also the medications and treatments often have many side effects that play host to many of these conditions. 

Elle Woods from Legally Blonde said it best, “Exercises releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” Indeed this is true; exercise will lead to the release of serotonin and dopamine, which are the two neurotransmitters in the body responsible for pleasure. These neurotransmitters can affect everything from mood, to overall physical health and quality of life. Helping you feel stronger, happier and more fulfilled.

There is still much research to be done on how exercise affects those living with HIV/AIDS and each person is unique. Depending on the stage of the disease, medications, overall physical health and such it is important to consult your physician prior to engaging in any exercise program. Always make sure to start at a lower, lighter level of exercise and build up from there. It is possible to exercise too much and that can have negative and drastic effects on your body and might even impact your treatment program. Again always talk to your physician, you know your body best and make sure you are always careful in your training program, ensure you are exercising properly, safely and at a level that is appropriate to your level of physical fitness and your goals. 

David Smith is the owner of Stonewall Fitness, holds a degree in exercise science from Metropolitan State University of Denver and holds several fitness certifications including ACSM Personal Trainer and Group Fitness.

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