Crystal Palace’s consultant joins Dubai Sports Council’s awareness campaign


DUBAI — As part of its campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of physical activity during the Holy Month of Ramadan, Dubai Sports Council has brought onboard Dr. Zafar Iqbal, consultant in sports and exercise medicine and head of sports medicine at English Premier League club Crystal Palace FC, to advice members of the community.

Dr. Iqbal, who is also chair of the Premier League Doctors’ Group, stressed on the importance of regular physical activity, and of exercising and eating right during the Holy Month of Ramadan in a video message through Dubai Sports Council’s social media channels.

He said: “I am delighted to have been asked by Dubai Sports Council to try and answer some questions regarding maintaining a healthy lifestyle while fasting during Ramadan. So this talk is focusing on physical activity and healthy lifestyles in the general public should you continue doing physical activity in this Holy month.”

Dr. Iqbal first explained the benefits of regular physical activity, especially during this period social isolation with precautionary measures in place because of COVID-19. He said: “We know there are plenty of benefits of regular physical activity including reducing and preventing chronic diseases such as obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and heart diseases, and even some cancers.

“It can improve your immunity, which helps fight infections better, and also helps you sleep and improves your mood due to the release endorphins, which are happy moments and make you feel good and this is particularly relevant with people having to socially isolate at home.”

Speaking about the ideal duration and forms of physical activity during the Holy Month of Ramadan, he added: “For adults, they should be doing a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity five times a week, and for children, 60 minutes every day.

“To get benefits, it doesn’t have to be vigorous exercise nor do you need specialist equipment or venue.

“Moderate intensity physical activity is any activity that makes you feel warm, slightly short of breath and you can feel your heart beating faster. So suitable activities can be a brisk walk, going up and down stairs, jogging on the spot, squats, bike rides. I strongly recommend you try and do this with the rest of the family so that you can all get the benefits.”

Dr. Iqbal, however, has advised against starting any new activity during the month because of the stress it might put on the body. “I advise that people should not be starting a new activity during the month of Ramadan without seeking medical advice first, in particular if they have already got preexisting medical issues,” he said. “Fasting is not the time to put the body under further stress.”

Talking about the ideal time for physical activity, he said it should be done in the period when you are allowed to eat.

“The ideal time to be doing physical activity between Iftaar and Sehri,” he said. “That way, you are going to take some food on board and a couple of hours you are ready to exercise. After your exercise, you can have some food and fluid, and that will make sure you are not dehydrated or fatigued.”

Dr. Iqbal also advised on the need to remain hydrated, and avoiding sugar and carbohydrates.

“During the Holy Month of Ramadan, it is also key what types of food you have between Iftaar and Sehri because what we don’t want to be doing is gaining any excess weight,” he said. “Try and minimize sugar, fried foods and white carbohydrates such as rice and potatoes. Otherwise the excess energy will be stored as fat and make it more difficult to shed.

“It is really important that you have plenty of water, maybe with an electrolyte tablet so that it can stay in the body for longer. Also try and supplement your diet with Vitamin D and Vitamin C, which can help your immunity and general wellbeing.” — SG