Exercise as a mediator of psychological and nutritional effects of testosterone therapy in HIV+ men

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998 Jun;30(6):811-7. doi: 10.1097/00005768-199806000-00006.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine whether exercise mediates the psychological and nutritional effects of testosterone therapy in men with symptomatic HIV illness, low serum testosterone, and clinical symptoms of hypogonadism.

Methods: A 12-wk open trial of biweekly intramuscular testosterone injections was conducted, with 54 men completing the trial and exercise assessments. Most (71%) men were diagnosed with AIDS; 41% had a CD4 < 50. One-third of the men were diagnosed with major depression, and nearly half had some evidence of wasting. Twenty-nine men (54%) engaged in exercise (predominantly resistance training) during the trial. Exercisers did not differ from nonexercisers on any measure of psychological well being or nutritional status at baseline.

Results: After 12 wk of testosterone treatment, those who exercised showed significant improvement in mood (Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression; HAM-D) and overall distress (Brief Symptom Inventory; BSI) (P < 0.000 for both), as well as a significant increase in body cell mass (P < 0.01) and lean body mass (mean increase of 2.6 kg; P < 0.000) as measured by bioelectric impedance analysis. In contrast, nonexercisers showed improvement on the HAM-D (P < 0.000), but not the BSI or measures of nutritional status.

Conclusion: These findings indicate that exercise may be an important adjunct to testosterone therapy in the treatment of psychological distress and wasting symptoms in men with symptomatic HIV illness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition
  • Depression
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • HIV Infections / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Nutritional Status
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use*
  • Weight Gain


  • Testosterone