I've received many questions and most people are concerned about the adverse effects of exercising in Ramadan. I discussed the questions with some other fitness professionals, and inshallah here are some brief answers:
- When is the best time to exercise in Ramadan?
Depends on your body type, fitness level and previous routine, you want to exercise when you have sufficient energy for it, and you know you'll be replenished soon thereafter. Hence, you can excercise an hour before iftar, or 2 hours after iftar, before or after taraweeh, or before suhoor if your schedule allows you to wake up that early.
It's also a good idea to stretch your arms and legs before and after taraweeh if you are not used to long periods of standing.
I would recommend exercising after you break your fast. It is not advisable to exercise while you are fasting because you are unable to replenish your water losses or your "fuel" losses. Your body increases its demand for glucose when you exercise, if you don't have enough glucose you can experience hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). To treat this you must ingest some fast acting sugar (i.e. juice) which you cannot do, when you are fasting. Low blood sugars can result in loss of consciousness and is very serious. That's why if you do exercise in Ramadan do it after you have eaten.
- What type of workout can I do?
You can do from light to moderate to heavy exercises, whether it's yoga, pilates, aerobics or even muscular conditioning.
- Is it safe to exercise in Ramadan?
Yes! The major battles during the time of the Prophet (pbuh) were fought in the month of Ramadan. Of course, the sahabas wouldn't fast then, but think of the state of an Ummah that's fasting and their soldiers are at war. Pretty fit I must say!
- Someone was just trying to tell me that working out while im fasting (as ive been doing for two days because of the complete lack of time anywhere else in the day) is detrimental, not productive. Is that true?
If you do not feel dizzy, then you can continue your routine.
- How do we keep fitness levels and our physique in check during the fasting month of Ramadan?
By visiting the sick, feeding the poor, following funerals, helping people, performing wudhu and other such acts. This preserves strength, good health, firmness of the heart and body and extracting unwanted residual substances that accumulate in the body. Have a holistic approach.
For the hardcore bodybuilder and the fitness enthusiast who wants to keep his/her physique in check, this means that while you won’t be able to pack on any serious muscle mass or make any outstanding progress towards your goals, you will be able to MAINTAIN most of what you have gained so far. So use this month of fasting to get comfortable with your body, your food intake, and hopefully, though not 100 percent - you’ll be able to maintain your fitness level at where it is today. Once the fasting month is over… then, you can go all out once again. Hitting the gym hard the day fasting is over may be a bit dissapointing as you will notice that you wont be in top form, but it will only be a matter of days before your muscle memory kicks in, and you’ll be exactly where you last stopped.
- What are some of the duas we can read for health in general?
It's as simple as asking Allah (swt) for good health :)
Also ask Allah (swt) to remove distress, grief, incapacity, laziness, miserliness, cowardice, the burden of debt and from being overpowered by men.
- Can pregnant women pray taraweeh?
I'm sure they can pray taraweeh if they feel upto it. However this is a question for a scholar if you want to go in detail. I will just list the benefits of exercising (which of course is different from taraweeh) for pregnant women:
- Improves posture
- Reduces the chance of back pain and general soft tissue stress
- Increases energy levels
- Increases confidence, self-esteem and well being
- Helps to balance the energy/caloric intake and output
- Can I do cardio while fasting?
Yes. In fact it's good for your heart in general. Some of the benefits are:
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Reduces every day stress on the heart and the circulatory system
- Increases the size and strength of the heart muscle
- Helps to keep the resting blood pressure normal
- Decreases resting heart rate
- What dua can I make to improve my eyesight?
The ayah from the Qur'an:
فَكَشَفْنَا عَنكَ غِطَاءكَ فَبَصَرُكَ الْيَوْمَ حَدِيدٌ
We removed thy veil, and sharp is thy sight this Day! [50:22]
This is one I know.
- When is the best time to have suhoor?
The Sunnah is to delay it until just before fajr. Have a healthy meal, chew slowly and well with lots of liquid.
- I'm not sure about eating habits in Ramadan because of my busy schedule, how should I eat?
There are many meal plans that you can adopt, but you have to plan it in advance- Do your grocery in bulk so that you know what you will be eating, and be consistent. Follow the food guide. Drink lots of fluids to flush out the toxins. You can find a sample menu here.
I also recommend using black seed, honey, olive oil in your diet, as all of these have shifa (healing) in them as taught to us by the Prophet (pbuh).
- What general health advice can you give for Ramadan?
Personally I think the best thing you can do to your body during Ramadan is to expel as many toxins as possible. Drink as much liquid as possible. Most people don't drink enough liquid to flush out the toxins.
Before taking a shower, use a dry skin brush. Follow the tips by Dr Gillian McKeith here.
- I'm looking for a Ramadan exercise plan.
Ramadan is not just about exercising, you have to maintain a balance of spiritual worship and attending to worldly needs. As such, your overall Ramadan plan should contain components of everything you'd like to achieve- from reading Qur'an to how much weight you'd like to lose. Make a chart on Excel or on paper and write down what you'd like to achieve for each week. Exercising is not independent from eating- You have to make sure you're eating moderately, drinking lots and healthy.
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Please, if you need the sources, let me know. They were just too many to list!