Experiences participating in a community-based exercise programme from the perspective of people living with HIV: a qualitative study
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OBJECTIVES: Our aim was to explore the experiences of engaging in a community-based exercise programme (CBEP) from the perspective of people living with HIV (PLWH). DESIGN: We conducted a descriptive qualitative study using semistructured interviews. SETTING: We recruited adults living with HIV who participated in a 16-week CBEP in Toronto, Canada. PARTICIPANTS: 11 participants, the majority men (64%), with a median age of 52 years, and living with a median of 5 concurrent health conditions in addition to HIV participated in the study. OUTCOME MEASURES: We asked participants about their overall experiences: strengths, limitations and perceived benefits of the CBEP; factors influencing participation and current level of exercise after completion of the CBEP. We administered a self-reported demographic questionnaire followed by the Rapid Assessment of Physical Activity (RAPA) questionnaire. We analysed interview data using thematic analysis. RESULTS: We developed a framework that describes the experiences before, during and after the CBEP; and the perceived impact of the CBEP on health, which influenced the intent to, engagement in and sustainability of exercise among PLWH. Participants described the positive impact of the CBEP on their physical, mental and social health. Interviews were completed at a median of 6 months after the CBEP, when 9 participants reported ongoing engagement in exercise, but to a lesser extent than during the CBEP. Intrinsic and extrinsic factors facilitated or hindered engagement in exercise throughout all phases of the CBEP. The episodic nature of HIV and multimorbidity influenced engagement in exercise and posed challenges to re-engagement after periods of inactivity. CONCLUSIONS: CBEPs provide an opportunity to enhance physical activity, perceived health outcomes and knowledge about exercise for PLWH. Community-based exercise is a strategy that may be used by health providers to promote engagement in sustained physical activity for PLWH.
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