Exercising During Ramazan- Adopting the Harm Reduction Approach

When it comes to incorpo­rating exercise into your routine during Ramadan, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Each individual’s response to fasting varies, influenced by family commit­ments, work schedules, and personal energy levels. However, regardless of your circumstances, the key to a suc­cessful workout routine during Ra­madan lies in stimulating rather than overwhelming your body.

FINDING THE RIGHT TIME:

Before Suhoor: For early ris­ers, working out before suhoor can be beneficial, providing an energy boost for the day ahead. However, be mindful that this may disrupt your sleep patterns and lead to earlier hunger pangs. Opt for low-impact exercises like yoga or light stretch­ing to awaken your body gently.

Afternoon (After Dhuhr Salah): Many find this to be the optimal time for a workout, as it provides a surge of energy for the remainder of the day. While initially challenging due to the lack of immediate access to water, your body will adapt over time. Choose activ­ities such as brisk walking, bodyweight exercises, or Pilates to invigorate your body without excessive strain.

Just Before Iftar: Despite lower en­ergy levels towards the end of the fast, exercising before iftar can be reward­ing, as replenishment is immediate afterward. Opt for low-intensity work­outs like brisk walks or light jogging, coupled with resistance training and stretching. Additionally, incorporate resistance training and stretching to maintain muscle tone and flexibility.

After Iftar: Evening workouts post-iftar offer high energy levels and hydra­tion opportunities. However, be cau­tious of potential sleep disturbances due to heightened alertness post-ex­ercise.Opt for activities such as cycling, swimming, or dancing to elevate your heart rate while enjoying the cooler evening temperatures.This is also the time when many fasting individuals find themselves compensating for their non-smoking hours. While physical ac­tivity is the best antidote to kicking the habit of smoking, one can also consider the newsmoke-free alternatives avail­able in the market that expose you to less harm if your nicotine craving be­comes unbearable. Moreover, smoking after a workout also compromises the benefits gained from exercise, so harm reduction approaches can be sought, coupled with an active lifestyle.Simi­larly, be mindful of unhealthy eating habitsafter exercise as they may under­mine your fitness goals.

Late Night: Night owls may prefer exercising between 11 pm and 2 am, leveraging cooled temperatures and ample time for food digestion and hydration. Ensure you have rested ad­equately during the afternoon to opti­mize performance. Focus on calming exercises like gentle yoga or medita­tion to promote relaxation and pre­pare for restorative sleep.

TAILORING EXERCISE TO YOUR LIFESTYLE

Sedentary Individuals: Start with low-intensity activities and gradu­ally increase frequency. Incorporate movement into daily routines, such as walking instead of driving.

Active Individuals: Maintain cur­rent activity levels without pushing boundaries. Listen to your body’s sig­nals and make necessary adjustments.

HYDRATION AND NUTRITION:

While it may be tempting to con­sume enormous amounts of water post-iftar, pacing hydration ensures proper absorption. Aim for around 2.5 liters of water but distribute intake sensibly throughout the evening.

Avoid the temptation to overindulge in food to compensate for the calories lost during the day. Instead, adopt a mindful approach to eating and re­frain from consuming more than your typical intake on non-fasting days. Opt for nutrient-rich, slow-release carbo­hydrates like wholegrain rice, quinoa, beans, lentils, or sweet potatoes to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Dates, rich in potassium, provide ener­gy and support muscle and nerve func­tion. Choose healthy options in moder­ation, avoiding oily foods like pakoras and samosas. By prioritizing exercise, hydration, and nutrition, individuals can find balance and maximize the benefits of Ramadan while nurturing overall health and well-being.

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