30 Apr Exercising during Ramadan and the COVID-19 pandemic
For Muslims around Australia, Ramadan is an important and holy month which is marked by the practice of sawm, or fasting. The practice of fasting during Ramadan means that Muslims may not eat or drink anything including water while the sun is shining. Managing daily exercise requirements can be more challenging during this time, and the current COVID-19 pandemic is making things even more difficult. We asked Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Mohamed Saad, for his tips on exercising safely during Ramadan celebrations.
Tips for exercising during Ramadan:
- Don’t skip suhoor (Pre-dawn meal)! Make sure you have something to eat, even as little as dates and plenty of water.
- If working from home, give yourself regular breaks (i.e. work for 30 minutes, get up and take 30 steps).
- Plan an exercise diary so you can stay on track with daily exercise.
- Find an exercise routine that you can continue with after Ramadan in order to maintain all the good work you have achieved in the month.
- Aim to complete at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. You can break this up throughout the day, (i.e. walk 10 minutes in the morning, do 10 minutes of light gardening in the afternoon and then 10 minutes of strength exercises at night).
- Do some light stretches before and after reading the Quran (Islamic scripture) or praying your salat (Prayers).
- Break up sitting for long periods when reading the Quran with regular short breaks to avoid your muscles and joints getting too stiff.
- Avoid high intensity exercise such as lifting heavy weights or sprinting.
- Do light to moderate exercises instead such as walking, light garden duties (i.e. watering the plants, light pruning) and basic home strength exercises.
- Make exercises fun with kids or family in your household, some good family games are tiggy and duck duck goose. Get creative!
- Listen to your body! It may take a while for your body to get used to the fasting, so don’t rush at exercising too quick in the beginning of the month. Begin slowly and gradually progress as the month goes by.
- If you plan on staying awake after suhoor, make sure you get plenty of rest. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
- If you plan on exercising before iftar (Breaking of fast), try and do it just prior to iftar. This will allow you to refuel the body quickly once you have finished the exercise session.
- If you plan on exercising after iftar, try and wait up to 2-3 hours before starting the exercises to allow for the food to digest properly.
- Make sure you don’t overeat on the table at the time of iftar as this can leave you feeling sluggish and not wanting to exercise.
- If you wake up for tahajuud (Late night prayer), try to have short frequent naps (15-20 minutes) during the day to keep you alert to engage in exercise.
- If you pray taraweeh (Night prayer after Isha), try and go for a light walk or perform some light stretches either before, during or after the salat so that your mind and body stays refreshed.
Getting the right advice
If you have a medical condition and don’t know if it’s safe to exercise in Ramadan, please speak with your doctor or health professional. For individualised exercise prescription, it’s best to talk to your local Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP). An AEP is an allied health professional who is specially qualified to help you “exercise right” for your age, fitness level and health status. To find an AEP near you, click here.
Written by Mohamed Saad. Mohamed is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Cohealth. He is passionate about building local community engagement through physical activity and assisting those who are less fortunate to have access to individualised exercise needs as part of their overall health and well-being.