Fasting And Fitness

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Fasting during Ramadan most likely means a shift in daily routine – from our working hours to the way we manage our leisure time. But one routine that does not have to radically change during your fast is your fitness routine. HEALTH takes a closer look at how we can stay fit, trim and healthy even in Ramadan

Fitness

Maryam is an IT expert in Dubai who says her fitness routine see-saws during Ramadan. “My normal fitness routine is a daily morning and evening walk for half an hour each as well as three days a week of pilates at the gym. But it all comes to a standstill in Ramadan. I have never been able to make myself do more than a bit of walking after my Iftar. What if I get dizzy?” she asks

Many of us are the same and simply take a month-long break from our fitness routines during Ramadan. But Scott Garrett, Sports and Recreational Manager at Body and Soul Health Club and Spa dispels this myth and reinforces that an individual should partake in at least three 30-minute workouts per week. “In fact, by stopping or reducing physical activity during Ramadan, a person’s metabolism could actually decrease and result in burning calories slower than normal,” he says and this could, in turn, possibly lead to weight gain during this period of fasting.


The Difference

The key difference in your workout is in the reduction of intensity in your workout in Ramadan, says Garrett. “Working at a high intensity will cause the individual to feel exhausted, due to the excessive fluid and electrolytes lost through sweat,” he says. “To combat exhaustion and fatigue, I would recommend a substantial decrease in intensity.”

It’s not so much the method but the intensities; “The method and ways in which you work out will be slightly altered by the types of activity that an individual can participate in to avoid ‘burn out, or exhaustion” he explains.

Timing

When you actually partake in your fitness routine during Ramadan really depends on the individual, suggests Garrett. :Many will find that they can take part in physical activity during the day without getting too tired and some will feel that the best time is just after they have eaten,” he says. “The key to fitness during Ramadan is to be smart and listen to your body; your body will tell you if it has the ability to work out or not.” Bear in mind that if your body tells you it needs a rest then do the correct thing.

Dehydration

One of the best ways in which to combat dehydration in the month of Ramadan is by getting up for Suhour and eating a proper meal, says Garrett. “A meal combined of a small amount of protein and fiber will give a maximum amount of vitamins and nutrients,” he says as this helps to prevent feeling hungry and controlling dehydration during the day. “Fruit and vegetables are by far the best source of fiber to help combat dehydration,” he says. “At least two glasses of water should be consumed during this time of day. Water provides oxygen in your blood which prevents dehydration

Advice

Unless you have an existing health concern already, Garrett explains that it may not be necessary to consult a doctor for permission to partake in physical activity during Ramadan. “And always remember to stay within your limits, as too much exercise could give you a real reason for a trip to the doctor,” he says. “It is always important to remember that fitness and physical activity is not just going to the gym or playing sports, as fitness is anything that increases your heart rate.” Great examples of light exercise are things that you can do around the home; housework, working in the garden, walking up and down the stairs, dancing, stretching even playing with your children are all great ways to get fitness into your daily life

Fitness Tips for Ramadan:

  • Drink plenty of fluids when you can such as water and fruit juice
  • Cut out as much fizzy drinks and sugary items
  • Include as much fruit and vegetables as possible
  • Stay active to keep a high metabolism
  • Make new and smaller realistic goals
  • Workout when it feels best, not when you think you have to
  • Reduce Intensity
  • Stop immediately if you don’t feel well
  • Do things that you enjoy
  • Remember to have fun

Five ideal exercises for anyone who is fasting

There are, in fact, many low intensity exercises that can be performed whilst during the month of Ramadan, points out Garrett. “If you are a member at a gym or health club, then do not hesitate to ask one of the qualified trainers at your club for a weekly workout program,” he says, and even if you’re not a member of a gym or health club, there are many of ways to keep fit a home. “Below are my five top exercises that can be executed at various intensities depending on the individual’s preference,” he says.

1. Step ups. If you don’t have a stepper available you can either use the bottom step of any stair case or a small stool.

2. Explosive lunges. Very similar to normal lunges. When in the lunge position you would jump directly vertical in the air switching your leading leg over so that when you land again you are in the lunge position however it is reversed.

3. Squat Thrusts. Stand up straight, drop down into a crouch position, followed by thrusting your legs out behind you before immediately bringing them back to the crouch position and straight back up to the start position.

4. Walking. Simply going a walk is a great low intensity way of working out and it has been proven that regular walking can help reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma and even prevent strokes.

5. Push Ups. Pushups are one of the most common exercises to do when working out. Pushups are great for your chest, triceps, shoulders and your torso. These can be simplified by kneeling instead of having legs extended

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