Photo by [Vecteezy]
A good exercise routine and a well-balanced diet are crucial during the holy month of Ramadan. They can help maintain a healthy lifestyle and ensure the body and mind remain strong and energised throughout fasting period and beyond.
While fasting is a religious obligation and a time for spiritual reflection for Muslims, there is no denying that there are numerous benefits to it. However, it can also strain and have physical implications on the body.
Regular physical activity and nutritious meals should be prioritised apart from the religious obligations of Ramadan. Exercising has numerous benefits, such as regulating blood pressure levels, reducing fatigue and tiredness and preventing muscle loss.
As Muslims, it is believed that our bodies are sacred and entrusted to us to look after them. Therefore, treat it as a temple, as they say.
When posed with the question, should we exercise during Ramadan? Laila Tayob, a personal trainer, responded, “The short answer is everybody, ideally, should be exercising in Ramadan”.
When is the Best Time to Exercise?
An individual should exercise when they can fuel and hydrate themselves. In Ramadan, this is after Iftaar. However, given the obligations after Iftaar, such as the evening prayers, there are more opportune times than this time frame.
So, what should be done? Tayob advised that each individual should find the best time which works for them. It does not need to be extended. A few minutes is enough before Iftaar is an ideal time to have a quick workout because once the exercise is completed, the individual can hydrate as they break their fast.
“Depending on your responsibilities and spiritual goals, whenever you find the time. Whatever works for you best, that’s the time that you should try and exercise. It doesn’t have to be at your maximum … It doesn’t always have to be in a gym or with dumbbells … Walking is such an important and overstated thing.”
What Exercises Can You Do?
If you are a regular gym goer, athlete or active person, it goes without saying that less is more. The intensity of the workouts should be reduced. Though exercising is good and a key ingredient to a healthier, risk-free lifestyle, fasting and extensive training are strenuous on the body.
“Your body is [entrusted upon you], so you can’t overdo the exercise and not look after your body. But by exercising, you notice that lethargy goes away and you feel better. You feel revitalised because exercising also releases endorphins, so you feel a little bit lighter.”
Tayob said something as simple as walking in the garden, taking the stairs and doing chores around the house is sufficient so long as your body moves throughout the day. Yoga, stretching, and mobility exercises are also good, as they can be done at home.
Nutrition is Better than Exercise
Nutrition is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As the saying goes, you are what you eat.
A diet filled with hydrating foods and fruits, healthy fats and carbs, fibre and protein can help maintain energy levels, support digestion and keep you functioning optimally throughout the day. Tayob recommends that we hold to the sunnah method of eating.
“We should not be eating and drinking like there’s no tomorrow. One-third water, one-third food [and one-third] empty. If we can maintain that, you’ll see your energy flow will be better.”
In Ramadan, a balanced meal provides the body with the nutrients and energy it needs to carry out daily tasks. The food we eat in Ramadan, fried and otherwise, is not the best option.