Resistance Training Can Delay Disease Progression – Study FindingGeneral

Dr Takshita Sookan.Dr Takshita Sookan.

Progressive resistance training (PRT) can possibly delay disease progression and together with antiretroviral therapy (ART) decrease inflammation, a study conducted by UKZN Biokineticist Lecturer Dr Takshita Sookan has revealed.

Conducted at Durban’s King Edward VIII Hospital on HIV-infected individuals on ART under the supervision of Professor Andrew McKune, the research proved that a PRT programme can decrease anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory cytokines possibly reflecting reduced systemic inflammation in HIV-infected individuals.

Titled: “Resistance Training Reduces the Helper Cytokine Levels but not Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in HIV-Infected Individuals Receiving Antiretroviral Therapy”,  the study aimed to determine the effect of combined resistance training and whey protein on Th1 and Th2 cytokines and cardiometabolic risk in HIV-infected individuals receiving ART.

Recently presented at the College of Health Sciences Annual Research Symposium, the study looked at implementing a sustainable intervention (resistance training and whey protein) to counteract ART side effects.

According to Sookan, since the initiation of ART, patients with HIV have longer life expectancies. However, treatment does not fully restore immune health and consequently, a number of inflammation-associated and/or immunodeficiency complications such as, HIV associated lipodystrophy, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other metabolic complications are increasing.

‘Cumulative toxicities from exposure to ART causes clinically-relevant metabolic disturbances. There are growing concerns that the wasting and lipodystrophy syndromes associated with the HIV disease may impact healthy aging and could overwhelm some health care systems, particularly those in resource-limited regions that have yet to fully develop a chronic care model,’ said Sookan.

Sookan’s study, a first in the South African context, showed that intervention could not improve insulin resistance in this population but there could be a shift in immune response with this type of exercise that could delay disease progression and inflammation.

‘The goal of this research is to advocate for exercise as medicine and to provide affordable sustainable interventions to decrease the burden on health care systems. Lifestyle interventions can improve the health of the South African population including those who are HIV positive,’ said Sookan.

She recently graduated with a PhD and is working on developing more exercise as medicine protocols for populations with/or at risk of non-communicable diseases and cardiometabolic diseases.

‘I feel lucky to have a platform to be able to conduct work/research that can inform the South African population (and international population) on healthy lifestyles using a scientific basis. I am passionate about this type of work and the impact it can make in our society,’ added Sookan.  

Nombuso Dlamini