Can one exercise during Ramadan?
KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 — Can one continue with a normal exercise routine during Ramadan? The immediate answer that comes to the mind of most people is no!
And they are probably right, at least to some extent, as the fasting month not only puts to test one's faith, but also one's physical and mental endurance.
Abstaining from food and drink from dawn to sunset means the body has no resources to replenish the energy and fluid drained out during daily routines.
Therefore, the common perception is that all physical activities producing sweat must be halted until the Aidilfitri celebration that marks the end of the fasting month.
"Then again, the question whether one should exercise or not during the holy month is up to one's discretion. Nonetheless, one can exercise during Ramadan", notes Kevin Zahri Abdul Ghaffar, a fitness author, public speaker and TV host.
Despite what appears to be contradictions, many weight watchers, especially women, feel that Ramadan is a great month to lose weight and regain much of the body curves, even without exercise.
It this another myth or fact?
Kevin Zahri admits that there is some truth to this.
When one fasts, the body breaks down the stored fats for the metabolic process.
Thus, strict fasting helps one shed some weight and maintain body fitness for an optimum health.
Actually, there is no point in dreaming about the desired body shape when one always feels exhausted and feeble.
Thus, exercise is the best way to maintain body fitness and resilience, even during the fasting month. Then what kind of exercise is appropriate during the fasting month?
"When you are actually fasting, stick with light to moderate cardiovascular exercises such as swimming, playing table tennis or any activity that does not overly strain your body.
"To maximise fat burning without exerting yourself too much, I recommend taking a fast walk or slow jog 30 to 45 minutes before breaking fast, that will be around 6pm", he explains, adding that it is the most appropriate time due to the hot and humid Malaysian weather and it is just before breaking fast.
Caution is necessary
Though exercise routines can go on during the holy month, but again, take it easy and be alert for any signs of dehydration.
If one feels dizzy, light headed or overly exhausted, it is best to stop immediately.
At times, the symptoms will appear in the first few days of fasting and disappear soon after, as the body adapts to the constrains caused by fasting.
Nonetheless, exercise after breaking fast is also an option worth considering. Then, can one start exercising immediately after breaking fast?
It all depends on what one eats when breaking fast.
Lets say a person stuffs their stomach with a heavy meal when breaking fast.
It would then be best to wait for some 60 minutes before exercising. If one has a clean, quick digestible meal or pre-workout meal, a 20 to 30 minute interval will suffice.
Can I do weight training?
Nonetheless, strenuous workouts to develop physical strength and muscles are not advisable during the fasting month.
Commenting further on this, Kevin Zahri feels that strenuous workouts, such as weight lifting, should be avoided during the fasting month.
"This will do more harm than good to your body. Strenuous exercises like weight lifting requires energy, which usually comes from food. Without food, the body will break down muscle tissue, instead.
"Here, instead of building muscles, you are breaking them down. Also, dehydration won’t help", he points out.
However, if one still wants to continue weight lifting, it is best done after breaking fast.
However, apart from physical exercises, there are many other ways to burn off excess calories and remain fit during Ramadan.
One of the best things to do is perform the tarawih, prayers performed by Muslims at night during Ramadan. Apart from earning ‘pahala’ (reward), the 20 rakaat prayer, that involve bowing and prostration, will burn some 80 calories.
Also, according to Kevin Zahri, walking through Ramadan bazaars, shopping for the festive season and making preparations such as cleaning and decorating the house, cooking and baking, are among the routines associated with the fasting month that also help to burn calories.
"During sahur (the meal before the start of fast), whether you need to cook, simply get up or brush your teeth, you always burn more calories awake than when asleep", adds Kevin Zahri.
So during Ramadan, apart from attaining spiritual purification one can still continue with non-strenuous exercises to maintain physical fitness, as well. — Bernama