Ramadan is the month in which participant Muslims refrain from food, drink, and personal pleasures from sunrise until sunset.
In Toronto, Ramadan is arriving in the Spring and fasts will last as long as 15 hours, making everyday activities like going to school and work rather difficult and uncomfortable. When most of your day is spent without food and drink it becomes difficult for the mind and body to get the energy it needs for exercise. For this reason, ruling out exercise for 30 days is understandable. But for some, it’s not!
Exercising during the month Ramadan does bring about many health benefits from reducing high blood pressure and sugar levels, to preventing weight gain (as many will be indulging in whole days worth of food in one sitting), to maintaining one’s endurance and cardiorespiratory system.
The question is, how do you exercise during Ramadan without feeling exhausted and causing bodily injury and harm?
Below are 5 tips to keep you exercising during Ramadan safely
These tips are recommended for those who are used to fasting and/or have been cleared for Ramadan-fasting
1. If you’re a first-time faster, talk to your doctor about your decision first. If your doctor does not recommend exercise while fasting, which may be suggested against for legitimate reasons, seek a second opinion from another doctor and see if he/she can monitor you through your journey. If you’re hoping to lower blood pressure or sugar levels while fasting, ask your doctor to perform blood tests for you before and after Ramadan to monitor your goals.
2. Exercise right before you eat. Engage in low impact exercise/physical activities between 15 to 30 minutes before break time. Low impact exercises include strength training using bands or hand weights which can be done standing up or sitting, yoga and slow walks. If you’re exercising alone or away from home, keep your cell on you in case you feel extremely weak or faintish and need to call for assistance.
Quick Tip 1: Some athletes continue their training while fasting for Ramadan. If you’re an athlete considering fasting this Ramadan, search how athletes modify their training.
3. Exercise after you eat. Try to exercise at least 60-minutes after you eat as to allow your body enough time to digest the food. Some suggest exercising two-hours after you eat. The only way to know if you’re ready to workout after your meal is to listen to how your body is feeling. To help reduce feelings or tiredness after eat, break your fast with light snacks that are packed with nutrients and provide energy such as dates, nuts, oatmeal and fruits. Remember you can have a bigger meal after you exercise.
Quick Tip 2: If you enjoy taking fitness classes, ask your local gym or fitness instructor if they can offer an exercise class from 10 pm to midnight. If you have small kids to care for, why not organize a late night exercise group and together pitch in on hiring a fitness instructor to come to you. Some gyms are 24-hours but most women-only gyms are not as they are located in grocery stores. Find out!
4. Drink plenty of water when beginning and breaking your fasts. To support hydration, the World Health Organization suggests males drink 3.7 litres of water (about 15 cups) and women 2.7 litres (about 11 cups) without exercise. With exercise, CanFitPro suggests drinking 250 to 500 ml of water one-hour before exercising, 125 to 250 ml every 10 to 15 minutes during exercise, and 500 ml for every pound of weight loss after exercise. Your doctor may be able to provide you with a better guideline for your body type. Because water helps to prevent dehydration, overheating and helps to increase metabolism, water is essential to having an effective workout.
5. Participate in exercise and physical activities in cooler conditions. If you live in a hot climate, try and exercise when it’s not too hot outside, preferably in the mid-afternoon, to prevent the body from overheating and feeling exhausted.
Quick Tip 3: If your job is physically demanding, see if your employer can arrange your work schedule at night or in the early evenings. Or, if you have school-aged children that are fasting and want to participate in gym/phys ed classes., speak to their doctor first about this. If they are cleared, ask their gym teacher to provide them with a low impact activity instead of sitting out. Again, let your kids know that if they feel weak or faintish, they should stop, tell the gym teacher immediately, and break their fast.
Wishing you all a healthy and meaningful Ramadan!