Thanks to awareness about the health risks associated with not doing any exercise, many people have now either joined a gym, bought a treadmill or booked aerobic, yoga and other classes to stay fit. Some people have made a pronounced lifestyle change by ensuring at least a half hour of exercise every day. What happens to these same people during Ramadan?
Much has been written about the adoption of unhealthy eating habits during Ramadan, but another important issue is why people simply stop exercising during Ramadan, particularly when heavy Iftars and over-eating on social occasions is a given.
“Ramadan is one of the best times to lose weight but Saudis and expatriates both adopt unhealthy habits, due in part to a lack of awareness about sport and physical activities,” remarked Mohammed Barnawi, a physical education instructor and Dietician, in an interview with Saudi Gazette. “Continuing an exercise regime in Ramadan is a strong means to maintain health and balance, but people are less willing to do any physical activity during Ramadan, so they pack on the kilos.”
Exercise, is therefore a must during Ramadan, but it is also important to keep the workout on a low profile while fasting. Undertaking a strenuous exercise regime can cause health problems like headaches, vomiting, dehydration and dizziness.
It doesn’t make sense to start pounding on the treadmill, for instance. “One can lift weights while fasting, and another option is skipping rope, which is an effective form of cardiovascular exercise,” said Dr. Barnawi. “It is also great at burning fat, increasing stamina and coordination, as well as the firming muscles in the shoulders and limbs.” The most convenient form of exercise, however, is to go for a 30-minute walk. When is the ideal time for working out during the day in Ramadan? Just after Suhoor or two hours before Iftar are both good times for working out during the fast, according to Dr. Barnawi. “Exercising two hours before Iftar is the best technique as it restores energy in the body,” he explained. “If someone opts to work out in the morning, then eating a late and substantial Suhoor is advised.”
Working out after Iftar is also possible, for those unwilling or unable to exercise during their fast. “Anyone who intends to exercise after Iftar should eat some dates, drink plenty of water and perhaps have some soup and then head off for the work out,” explained Mohammed Siddique Al-Ansari, the Imam of a mosque in Riyadh. “This way the body can build up more stamina.” For those used to having a large meal with their family for Iftar, it is also possible to work out after the Taraweeh prayers, as that helps to digest the large Iftar meal, he added.
Dr. Barnawi is also of the opinion that working out after Iftar can provide the body with much-needed fuel and ensure a more strenuous work out. It will also play a role in deflecting gastrointestinal discomfort. He recommends a couple of exercises for this group of people:
“Jogging on the treadmill for 20 minutes, abdominal exercises, and swimming are highly recommended,” he said. “Those who don’t visit health clubs can take a 40-minute brisk walk anywhere as well as try forms of exercise, particularly some new positions from Sweden that burn a lot of calories in 15 minutes,”
Even playing stamina-boosting sports like football and volleyball can help one maintain a good level of weight as it burns a lot of calories and ensures a good time as well.” – SG