Physical activity among HIV positive women of low socioeconomic status: Benefits and barriers
Physical activity (PA) is beneficial for people living with HIV. The purpose of this study was to investigate the benefits and barriers of PA for HIV-positive women of low socioeconomic status (SES). A concurrent mixed methods study design was used, wherein focus group discussions were conducted with 21 participants to explore the participants’ barriers to engaging in PA and exercise preferences; and determine improvements that could be added to the content and delivery of a planned, contextualised PA intervention programme for HIV positive women of low SES. The exercise benefits/barriers (EBBS) questionnaire was also used to assess participants’ perceived benefits and barriers to exercise. The results of the study show that the participants’ barriers to PA were associated with HIV-related symptoms and medications, depression, aging, finances, time-constraints, personal living environments, a lack of knowledge about the value of PA, and a lack of motivation to engage in PA. Participants had higher perceived benefits [M (SD) =3.16(0.74)] than barriers [M (SD) =2.68(0.96)] to exercise. In terms of barriers, the participants agreed most on the item: ‘there are too few places for me to exercise,’ and disagreed most on the item: ‘I am too embarrassed to exercise’. In terms of benefits, the participants agreed most on the item: ‘exercise improves the way my body looks,’ and disagreed most on the items: ‘exercise allows me to carry out normal activities without becoming tired’ and ‘exercise improves the quality of my work’. Exercise preferences included aerobic exercises, calisthenics and chair exercises. Participants preferred group classes, with monitoring and tracking of exercise. In conclusion, the intervention should consider the barriers to PA that relate specifically to HIVinduced symptoms and medications. Also, the study highlights the importance of including participants’ preferred exercises with monitoring and tracking of exercise.
Keywords: Physical activity, HIV/AIDS, benefits, barriers.
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