Staying Active & Keeping Healthy During Ramadan

Come Ramadan, energy levels may seem low and activities more sedentary than normal. Read on for tips on staying active and healthy this fasting period.

by Sarah Anati

During the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims around the world partake in a month-long fast as an act of worship to God. It is in this period of time that energy levels may seem low and day-to-day activities may become more sedentary than usual. 

Many attribute this to the lack of eating and drinking. Yet, being too idle can actually contribute to feelings of lethargy and fatigue. The solution to this is not to ramp up workouts or to consistently hit the treadmill, it is best to gradually add more physical activity and movement throughout the day. If you intend to keep fit and active during this month of Ramadan, read on for some tips on how to best achieve it!

Pick a suitable time of the day to get in some exercise 

It is common for people to experience a decline in their exercise regime or inactivity in their daily routine during the fasting month. This is understandable since Muslims abstain from food and drink during the daylight hours and may feel the need to conserve as much energy as possible by limiting all unnecessary activities and movement. 

However, there are actually multiple windows of opportunity for daily light intensity exercises. In keeping exercise during the hours in which food and drink can still be consumed, consider taking some time before sahur for a quick walk around the house or after iftar to get in some exercise. Alternatively, the time interval just before iftar is great as the time for breaking fast is near approaching. With the anticipation of breaking fast soon, some physical activity may not seem as tiring. Nevertheless, find a suitable time and ensure you get ample time to wind down after exercising. 

Exercise and workout in accordance with yourself 

It is important to keep workouts light and low intensity throughout the month. It is not necessary to push yourself to do strenuous, vigorous exercises as this period of time is not for losing weight or gaining muscle. Rather, aim for staying active and fit. 

Even doing simple stretches can be beneficial as it helps improve blood circulation, alleviate any soreness and relieve tension in the body. On the other hand, walking has been shown to prompt positive mood, enhance immune function and transiently reduce blood pressure. Thus, invite your loved ones for leisurely strolls around your neighbourhood taman to breathe in the fresh air, keep the blood flowing and the body moving. 

Reminder! Warm-up and cool down prior to beginning an exercise to avoid injury.

Eat healthily 

It is the meaning of Ramadan to practice restraint and self-control. As such, during this holy month, shift dietary patterns to a more well rounded, wholesome diet. Incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible for the vitamins and minerals they provide and avoid processed foods. Limit the intake of fats, sodium and sugar by reducing the consumption of high-sodium, high-sugar foods and switching to a steaming or boiling method of cooking as opposed to frying.

Although it may make sense to replenish and load up on food and drinks to compensate for a missing meal – and the lure of Bazaar Ramadan definitely doesn’t help – it is advisable to avoid overindulging yourself. There is no need to compensate for the meals missed between after sunrise and before sunset. 

Refrain from overeating during sahur or feasting when breaking fast. This is especially important as overeating can lead to health complications such as hyperglycemia in diabetics and weight gain. Nonetheless, jumping to the other extreme and skipping sahur or purposely withholding from eating during iftar should be dissuaded as well. Moderation is key.

Check out more tips on how to have better sahur mornings and iftar evenings.

Stay hydrated 

It is essential to drink sufficient amounts of fluids to avoid dehydration. We regularly lose water through sweating and urinating. And after a long day of refraining from eating and drinking, it may seem tempting to treat yourself to a cold, refreshing beverage when breaking fast. 

It’s best to avoid sugary sweet drinks when breaking fast or filling up for sahur. Water may seem ordinary and plain compared to sirap limau ais, but to increase your hydration levels, water is your best option. Warm soups, milk, fruit juices and vegetables are great alternatives as well. Coffee and tea are also viable options to hydrate yourself. But having said that, they are diuretics that do tend to make you go to the bathroom more often. 

Keeping active: A healthy Ramadan

Ramadan is a time where Muslims around the world inculcate self-control and self-discipline. Take this time as an opportunity to better yourself spiritually as well as physically. The real concept of working out and exercising during Ramadan is not to reap the benefits of not eating and drinking, but to stay energetic, alert and engaged when partaking in the Ramadan customs and prayers. 

Remember to listen to your body as only you know what you’re feeling best. It is not necessary to push yourself to achieve strict fitness goals, instead focus on your overall health and wellbeing. 

Homage wishes you Ramadan Mubarak and Berpuasa. 

References
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  4. Petre, A. (2019, March 13). Does tea dehydrate you? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/does-tea-dehydrate-you 
  5. Raman, R. (2019, December 11). Does coffee dehydrate you? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/does-coffee-dehydrate-you
  6. Rouhani, M. H., & Azadbakht, L. (2014). Is Ramadan fasting related to health outcomes? A review on the related evidence. Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 19(10), 987–992. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4274578/
  7. Spritzler, F. (2017, April 3). 10 reasons you’re always tired (and what you can do about it). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-you-are-tired#2.-Living-a-Sedentary-Lifestyle 
  8. Van De Walle, G. (2019, December 19). The 5 Best Ways to Rehydrate Quickly. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-rehydrate
  9. World Health Organization. (2020, April 29). Healthy diet. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/healthy-diet 
About the Writer
Sarah Anati
A nostalgic soul armed with the yearn to explore different possibilities and enact positive change. Always eager to experience all that life has to offer!
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