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Effects of a resistance exercise intervention programme on body composition, chronic disease risks and strength scores in people living with HIV and Aids (PLWHA) receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) in Zimbabwe.

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Introduction People living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) increases their life expectancy. Receiving ART coupled with physical inactivity results in increase in prevalence of hyperlipidaemia, obesity and overweight, type 2 diabetes mellitus, lipodystrophy, decrease in mineral bone density and hypertension among others. Resistance exercise (RE) interventions address chronic disease risks affecting PLWHA receiving ART. Aim The study investigated the effect of RE on body composition, chronic disease risks and strength scores in PLWHA receiving ART. Methods The study followed an experimental, pre-and-post-test design. The sample constituted 128 PLWHA, of black African ethnic groups, aged between 18-45 years and receiving ART. The participants were recruited from Glenview and Mabvuku suburbs in Harare. The participants from Glenview were randomly allocated to an experimental group i.e. the EXP group (n=64) performing REs three days per week and those from Mabvuku to a control group i.e. the CON group (n=64) for 12 weeks following a pre-test session. Body composition (waist-to-hip ratio, body mass index, percentage body fat, fat mass, lean body mass), chronic disease risks (fasting blood glucose, fasting total blood cholesterol, blood pressure) and strength (1RM tests) scores were pre-and-post-test measured in all participants observing standard protocols. Chi-square, Fisher’s test, linear regression, Binomial test, Spearman’s and Pearson’s correlations were conducted. SPSS statistical package version 22 was used and significance set at p<0.05. Results Post-test body composition scores remained high in the CON group (n=64), but improved significantly (p<.0005) in the EXP group (n=64). Significant differences (p<.0005) were noted in post-test chronic disease risks between the EXP group (n=64) and the CON group (n=64). Post-test fasting blood glucose and fasting total blood cholesterol scores in the CON group (n=64) were significantly higher (p<.0005) than in the EXP group (n=64). A 100% of the CON group (n=64) participants remained with pre-hypertension at post-test, while 66% of the EXP group (n=64) with hypertension 2 improved to hypertension 1. Strength scores in the EXP group (n=64) participants significantly increased (p<.0005) for bench press, squat, bicep curl and leg curls than in the CON group (n=64). There were no effects of gender in respect of fasting blood glucose and total fasting blood cholesterol scores in both groups at post-test. Conclusion The results showed that the 12 week RE intervention programme improved body composition, chronic disease risk and strength scores in PLWHA receiving ART. Resistance exercise is safe and beneficial for PLWHA in resource-constrained settings. Policy makers may utilise this information to include RE programmes for PLWHA as a healthy lifestyle intervention in Zimbabwe. Keywords HIV, ART, Chronic disease risks, Resistance exercise, Body composition, Strength.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.