Improving your body shape


Whilst fat loss tends to be the main exercise goal for much of the general population, for people with HIV, there's historically been more focus on gaining and maintaining weight than losing it.

Muscle wasting was a significant problem for people living with HIV before the HAART era and maintaining protein reserves and some body fat is useful at times of illness, when appetite and energy may be low.
Nowadays with a newer and better formulation of ARVs, lipodystrophy, causing the fat loss in certain areas and at the same time increasing the levels of fats in the blood has become much rarer. However if you have been affected there are some things you can do in order to prevent lipodystrophy.

Apart from changing medications from the older D-drugs (d4T, ddI) to stop things getting any worse, exercise is the only intervention that has been shown to reverse the progress of lipodystrophy in relation to general body shape. However this does not apply to facial wasting, which needs to be treated with Newfill injections.
The combinations of cardiovascular exercise and resistance (weight) training have been proven to be the only things reducing the appearance of the fat around the stomach area in men. Whilst it may not be possible to get rid of all the fat that has accumulated, reducing some of the fat and building muscle in the areas where it has been lost (arms, legs, buttocks) can reduce the severity of the condition and improve your body proportions and appearance.

As exercise is an extremely effective way of reducing bad blood fats and increasing the good fats, not only will it combat the outward signs of lipodystrophy, but it will also improve the inner fat issues, which are the greater health concern. Doctors often prescribe drugs to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and whilst these are effective, they can have their own side effects and are yet more pills to take. Exercise on the other hand will do the same job and provide you with a health investment for the future in terms of cardiovascular risk factors, improved appetite, sleep, bone density, mood and self-esteem.
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