Planning for exercise

Think about what your aims of exercising are and set yourself some realistic and achievable goals. You may want to get fitter, or you may want to put on weight, lose weight, or achieve a better body shape. Make sure that your aims are achievable – if you’re too ambitious you might become disappointed and lose enthusiasm for your exercise programme or even hurt yourself.

Getting an instructor at a gym to work with you to develop a personal training programme can be a good way of setting yourself achievable goals. Many gyms offer this service as part of an induction package for members. 

Make sure that you tell the person working with you about any health conditions you have that might make exercise risky (for instance, high blood pressure) or which affect your ability to undertake certain exercises, such as joint problems. There’s often no reason why you have to tell anybody at a gym or other fitness facility that you are HIV positive.

Some services, such as gyms, fitness centres and spas, may ask you about pre-existing medical conditions. However, any restrictions they make on people considered to have a disability have to be “proportionate to the risk”. In other words, there should be a real medical reason why you should not be able to use the facilities. See Stigma and discrimination for more information about the Equality Act 2010 and your rights.

Your GP (family doctor) can direct you to exercise facilities. If you’re not sure how to start exercising safely, ask your GP about the exercise on prescription programme. Exercise can be prescribed as a treatment for a range of conditions. Your GP may be able to refer you to a local ‘active health team’ for a fixed number of sessions under the supervision of a qualified trainer. Your GP and active health team will help you decide what type of activity will suit you best. Depending on your circumstances and what’s available locally, the exercise programme may be offered free or at a reduced cost.

Contact NAM to find out more about the scientific research and information used to produce this section.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.