Original Research: Physical activity levels among Malawian adults living with HIV and receiving anti-retroviral therapy

Enock Chisati

Keywords: Physical activity, anti-retroviral therapy (ART), people living with HIV (PLWHIV)


Despite increasing life expectancy among people living with HIV (PLWHIV), anti-retroviral therapy (ART) side effects, HIV chronic inflammation and co-morbidities may limit functional abilities and reduced participation in exercises and physical activity (PA). PA improves wellbeing and overall quality of life of PLWHIV. In Malawi, there is paucity of information regarding PA levels among Malawians living with HIV and receiving ART. Therefore, this study aimed at determining PA levels among PLWHIV and receiving ART in Malawi.

A quantitative cross-sectional design was employed. Eligible participants were male and female adults aged 18–45 years living with HIV receiving ART for at least 1 year. The participants were recruited from Limbe Health Center, Gateway Health Center and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre, Malawi. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was used to assess the PA levels. A Stadiometer (HS-DBS00361, Model: 1127154) was used to measure weight (kg) and height (cm) of the participants.

A total of 213 participants were recruited. There were more females than male participants (n=132 females). Overall, the mean age of all participants was 37±6.5 years and they were within normal body weight (BMI=23±4.0). Many participants (n=85, 40%) had low PA levels followed by those who were moderately physically active (n=75, 36%). A larger proportion of the female participants (51%) had low PA levels compared to males (22%). Forty-two percent of participants with 1–3 years of ART had low PA whereas 39% with >3 years ART had low PA.

Most PLWHIV and receiving ART in the sample have low PA levels. The study has also revealed that proportionally more females than males had low PA levels.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1995-7262
print ISSN: 1995-7262

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