Journal of NeuroVirology

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 410–417 | Cite as

Physical exercise is associated with less neurocognitive impairment among HIV-infected adults

  • Catherine A. Dufour
  • Maria J. Marquine
  • Pariya L. Fazeli
  • Brook L. Henry
  • Ronald J. Ellis
  • Igor Grant
  • David J. MooreEmail author
  • the HNRP Group


Neurocognitive impairment (NCI) remains prevalent in HIV infection. Randomized trials have shown that physical exercise improves NCI in non-HIV-infected adults, but data on HIV-infected populations are limited. Community-dwelling HIV-infected participants (n = 335) completed a comprehensive neurocognitive battery that was utilized to define both global and domain-specific NCI. Participants were divided into “exercise” (n = 83) and “no exercise” (n = 252) groups based on whether they self-reported engaging in any activity that increased heart rate in the last 72 h or not. We also measured and evaluated a series of potential confounding factors, including demographics, HIV disease characteristics, substance use and psychiatric comorbidities, and physical functioning. Lower rates of global NCI were observed among the exercise group (15.7 %) as compared to those in the no exercise group (31.0 %; p < 0.01). A multivariable logistic regression controlling for potential confounds (i.e., education, AIDS status, current CD4+ lymphocyte count, self-reported physical function, current depression) showed that being in the exercise group remained significantly associated with lower global NCI (odds ratio = 2.63, p < 0.05). Similar models of domain-specific NCI showed that exercise was associated with reduced impairment in working memory (p < 0.05) and speed of information processing (p < 0.05). The present findings suggest that HIV-infected adults who exercise are approximately half as likely to show NCI as compared to those who do not. Future longitudinal studies might be best suited to address causality, and intervention trials in HIV-infected individuals will determine whether exercise can prevent or ameliorate NCI in this population.


HIV/AIDS Mild neurocognitive impairment Physical exercise Cognition Lifestyle Neuropsychology 



The HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center (HNRC) is supported by Center award P30MH062512 from NIMH.

The San Diego HIV Neurobehavioral Research Program group is affiliated with the University of California, San Diego; the Naval Hospital, San Diego; and the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, and includes: Director: Robert K. Heaton, Ph.D.; Co-Director: Igor Grant, M.D.; Associate Directors: J. Hampton Atkinson, M.D., Ronald J. Ellis, M.D., Ph.D., and Scott Letendre, M.D.; Center Manager: Thomas D. Marcotte, Ph.D., Jennifer Marquie-Beck, M.P.H., Melanie Sherman; Neuromedical Component: Ronald J. Ellis, M.D., Ph.D. (P.I.), Scott Letendre, M.D., J. Allen McCutchan, M.D., Brookie Best, Pharm.D., Rachel Schrier, Ph.D., Terry Alexander, R.N., Debra Rosario, M.P.H.; Neurobehavioral Component: Robert K. Heaton, Ph.D. (P.I.), J. Hampton Atkinson, M.D., Steven Paul Woods, Psy.D., Thomas D. Marcotte, Ph.D., Mariana Cherner, Ph.D., David J. Moore, Ph.D., Matthew Dawson; Neuroimaging Component: Christine Fennema-Notestine, Ph.D. (P.I.), Terry Jernigan, Ph.D., Monte S. Buchsbaum, M.D., John Hesselink, M.D., Sarah L. Archibald, M.A., Gregory Brown, Ph.D., Richard Buxton, Ph.D., Anders Dale, Ph.D., Thomas Liu, Ph.D.; Neurobiology Component: Eliezer Masliah, M.D. (P.I.), Cristian Achim, M.D., Ph.D., Ian Everall, FRCPsych., FRCPath., Ph.D.; Neurovirology Component: David M. Smith, M.D. (P.I.), Douglas Richman, M.D.; International Component: J. Allen McCutchan, M.D., (P.I.), Mariana Cherner, Ph.D.; Developmental Component: Cristian Achim, M.D., Ph.D.; (P.I.), Stuart Lipton, M.D., Ph.D.; Participant Accrual and Retention Unit: J. Hampton Atkinson, M.D. (P.I.), Jennifer Marquie-Beck, M.P.H.; Data Management and Information Systems Unit: Anthony C. Gamst, Ph.D. (P.I.), Clint Cushman; Statistics Unit: Ian Abramson, Ph.D. (P.I.), Florin Vaida, Ph.D. (Co-PI), Reena Deutsch, Ph.D., Anya Umlauf, M.S., Christi Kao, M.S.

Conflict of interest

Nothing to disclose.


The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government.


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Copyright information

© Journal of NeuroVirology, Inc. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine A. Dufour
    • 1
  • Maria J. Marquine
    • 1
  • Pariya L. Fazeli
    • 1
  • Brook L. Henry
    • 1
  • Ronald J. Ellis
    • 2
  • Igor Grant
    • 1
  • David J. Moore
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • the HNRP Group
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of California, San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of California, San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  3. 3.HIV Neurobehavioral Research ProgramUniversity of California, San DiegoSan DiegoUSA

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