A nice-looking butt isn’t the only reason to add leg strengthening exercises to your fitness routine. A study published in the South African Journal of HIV Medicine found that moderate leg strength training—like squats and lunges—was associated with better movement and balance among HIV-positive people with chronic pain due to peripheral neuropathy.


Abdulsalam Yakasai, PhD, and colleagues at the University of KwaZulu-Natal recruited 102 people with peripheral neuropathy to participate in a randomized trial of a strength exercise intervention. Just over half were women, and the median age was 36 years. Most didn’t develop neuropathy until after they started antiretrovirals.


Although the study didn’t evaluate the impact of exercise on pain itself, it found that the 51 people who did progressive leg muscle training using gym equipment for 12 weeks saw their balance and walking gait improve. Meanwhile, the 51 people who didn’t do anything different saw little change.


“The use of progressive resistance exercise could minimize residual disabilities” from peripheral neuropathy related to HIV, the researchers wrote.