This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Vishwa Schoolwallah. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

A Workout A Day Can Keep AIDS At Bay

More from Vishwa Schoolwallah

“Stay fit and healthy” and “lose weight” are two of the most popular New Year resolutions. In fact they made up 69% of resolutions in 2015! And while we all understand the significance of health and fitness, around 80% of these of these resolutions fail because of numerous excuses that come easy to most of us.  

However, these fall flat in front of the danger AIDS poses to HIV+ people.

While a sure shot way to avoid HIV is safe sex, testing is the only way to know you are not HIV positive. Sadly, as the data of the UNAIDS 2017 report has for you, 3 of every 10 HIV+ people don’t know their HIV status.

HIV-AIDS does not have a cure. Discrimination, a lack of knowledge about safe sex practices, and of how HIV spreads is responsible for adding to the death toll of HIV-AIDS patients. Those living with HIV have to depend on lifelong medication to survive.

I have been taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the past year.  ART stopped HIV from colonizing my body. But beating HIV to live life to the fullest takes more than just medication. Most HIV-AIDS specialists advise 20-30 minutes of exercise, and a healthier diet. But I’ve seen the benefits of doing a lot more than that. And it’s something I believe all HIV-AIDS patients should be doing!

Workout And Immunity

Most people don’t realize that your immunity is not just a function of body, it is an organ system. Lymph nodes and the spleen play key roles in our immunity. Our blood has to overcome gravity to reach the heart from the lower parts of our body. Sedentary lifestyle means we don’t use our muscles enough to pump blood to the upper parts of our body. By contracting  and strengthening our muscles during workouts, we also stimulate our blood vessels to ensure better flow of White and Red Blood Cells, for the longevity of our organs, and to fight off germs and viruses, respectively.

Workout And Depression

Efavirenz, the main chemical used in the most commonly available HIV medications are known to cause or worsen depression. Not to mention the debilitating feeling that overwhelms a person knowing that they are HIV+. Sustained depression leads to physical and psychological diseases that could cause early onset of AIDS. This is why working out is important for HIV+ patients. Physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. These hormones are your body’s natural anti-depressants. You feel good about yourself, and are in a better position to fight off depression.

Workout And Blood

The heart and the eyes are the only two muscles in our body that work non-stop. Evolution has deemed both to be important for survival.  Some HIV drugs cause an increase in blood pressure. Adding fuel to fire is the fact that HIV medication could interact with other medicines, for example Viagra, and cause high blood pressure, which in turn causes the risk of stroke, kidney failure and heart attack.

Exercise helps increase your heart’s tolerance of strain caused by high blood pressure. So, the harms of prolonged use of HIV medication could be mitigated by giving yourself a heavy workout everyday. Seek cardio intensive exercises and circuit training to have a healthy heart.<

Workout And Muscles

When you have HIV, you burn calories fast. And this is because your immunity is working overtime to keep up with the virus. HIV medication helps slow, and limits its presence. But one miss or delay in your medication can cause significant damage to your body. Your body also may not absorb enough nutrients because HIV hurts the linings of your intestines, or because the medication causes upset stomach and diarrhea. People with HIV also tend to have higher sugar and fat content in their blood, with lesser protein content. And so, you must give your body a protein rich diet.

Ever heard of AIDS Wasting Syndrome? Ah, yes! Scary as it sounds – it is a condition when the body loses 5-10% of its weight in muscles. One can limit muscle wasting HIV medications, but is still a considerable threat. Progressive weight training, without the use of steroids and supplements, is the only way to ensure delayed onset of AIDS for those suffering with HIV.

Workout And HIV Meds

HIV medication also causes nightmares, drowsiness, mood swings, and weakness. Just as hormones are released in small quantities to regulate your bodily functions, HIV medication also works to impede the growth of virus in your body. Workout helps regulate your body’s hormones by activating your glands.

A good workout makes your body tired by the end of the day, leading to better sleep, and most of our body’s repair work happens when we sleep. A sound sleep also ensures the aforementioned side effects of HIV medication could be made minimal, if not completely removed.

Workout And Self-image

Regular physical activity increases the levels of dopamine and serotonin in the body. These two chemicals are important for the reward system of your brain. They help regulate your mood, sleep cycle, hunger, movement and posture.

Exercising activates the reward system of our brain by releasing dopamine and serotonin. While dopamine is also produced when you have an orgasm, take drugs, or play your favourite game.  Serotonin levels are higher when you wake up early morning, receive hugs, feel loved, and meditate. These chemicals also reduce dependence on addictions.

Exercise has a direct impact on how you feel about yourself. You feel more confident, self-assured, focused and empathetic. You have a stronger desire to connect with others, share, talk, and add value to yourself and the world.

For those of us living with HIV, it is absolutely essential to stay fit. And I strongly advise you to make that your New Year’s resolution. For those of you who are not HIV+, practicing safe sex should be a resolution that you should strongly consider.

Make sure you honour the resolutions you make this New Year!

On behalf of Safe Masti, a program supported by Elton John foundation, I wish you a happy and healthy 2018.

You must be to comment.

More from Vishwa Schoolwallah

Similar Posts

By Seema Sayyed

By Rohit Malik

By Sas3 Tranimal

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below