Ramadan can be a taxing time for both your mind and body if you don’t take certain precautions. In order to accommodate only eating during nightfall, your entire routine needs to be re-considered and carefully thought about. Your sleep pattern may get disrupted if the sun is due to rise early and Suhoor needs to be eaten. This can leave you feeling more tired than usual until your body adjusts to its new routine.
Another change is the risk of dehydration – you can’t drink water during daylight hours in Ramadan unless you are at an immediate health risk. Muslims are expected to take necessary precautions to avoid getting seriously dehydrated, and that means bypassing being too active as this makes you sweat and lose water, resulting in a higher risk of dehydration.
This, combined with the increased tiredness and weakness felt by not eating for extended periods of time, can make it difficult for Muslims to exercise during this holy month. That being said, keeping active is an essential part of life and is incredibly important for your overall health, so to stop doing it for a whole month could have a negative effect on your physical health, not to mention your mental health.
It is possible to keep fit during Ramadan, but you need to approach it in a slightly different way from how you would normally exercise. With this in mind, we’ve put together this handy guide on how to exercise during Ramadan.
Should you exercise during Ramadan?
In short, yes, you should aim to exercise during Ramadan like you would at any other time of the year as it’s vital for your physical and mental health. That being said, you will need to approach it slightly differently in order to do it safely, but provided you take the following tips on board, there’s no reason why keeping active during the month of fasting will present a threat to your health and wellbeing.
Best exercises to do during Ramadan
One of the changes your body may experience during Ramadan is muscle loss. If you’re someone who puts a lot of effort into gaining muscle and defining your physique, this can be detrimental to your training and can put you in a negative mindset. You don’t necessarily have to lose muscle during Ramadan, though.
In fact, one of the best exercises you can do during Ramadan is strength training (in moderation). By focusing on your muscles, you will prevent muscle loss and should be able to maintain your physique - provided your diet remains steady and you don’t fall into the trap of bingeing on all the wrong foods during Iftar.
Some people prefer to do cardio workouts, and whilst this is great for heart health, it can be more demanding on your body. This is because cardio makes you thirstier than strength workouts do, and it can require far more energy from your body overall. When your body is in a fasted state you will likely already feel tired and, paired with the fact you may also be slightly dehydrated, the increased sweating associated with a cardio workout can make you feel even worse and isn’t always advisable from a health perspective.
Whilst fasting is commanded by Allah (SWT) for your personal, religious, and spiritual growth, your health is paramount and you must put that first, so if you engage in any kind of exercise and feel severely dehydrated or weak, you must stop immediately and drink water to prevent fainting or any further health issues. Strength training will reduce the chances of this, but if you do want to do cardio, think about walking or jogging in a way that doesn’t leave you out of breath or panting. Gentle activity is very much the way forward throughout Ramadan.
What is the best time to exercise during Ramadan?
The time at which you exercise will need to be carefully considered during Ramadan, namely because you will likely want to drink water during your workout or immediately after. With this in mind, working out in the middle of the day isn’t advised, and it’s instead recommended that you instead coincide your workout with either Iftar or Suhoor.
Most personal trainers tell their Muslim clients to work out just before Iftar so that they can eat and drink immediately after, but some people find it easier to work out after Iftar or just before Suhoor depending on their schedule. By planning your workouts to fall at the same time as your meals, you can quickly rehydrate and sustain yourself before the day of fasting begins, ensuring your body isn’t negatively impacted by working out. This is also of particular note if you want to do cardio workouts.
It's generally not recommended to work out during the day whilst fasting, but if this is the only time you can focus on your fitness, consider sticking to a slow walk or doing something lighter like resistance training. Also try and avoid working out at the hottest part of the day, especially in summer, as you will dehydrate much faster.
Top tips for doing exercise in Ramadan
In addition to the points listed above, there are a number of other good exercise tips during Ramadan you should be aware of. They include:
- Avoid pushing your body and trying to make new personal bests
- Eat hydrating foods like cucumber, soups, and other water-heavy meals to bolster your hydration
- Learn the signs of dehydration (e.g., dizziness, feeling faint, and dark/strong urine)
- Increase the number of rest days in your workout schedule to allow your body to recover better
Whilst it’s important to remain healthy and fit during Ramadan, you need to ensure you don’t lose sight of the goal of this auspicious month. Ensure you allocate enough time to recite the Qur’an and strengthen your bond with Allah (SWT). This is the most important part of Ramadan, so ensure your workout plans don’t impede on your religious growth during this auspicious month. If you do work out, the tips above should help you stay healthy whilst doing so.
The team at Orphans in Need wish you a healthy and happy Ramadan!