The month of Ramadan can often become an excuse to not exercise and to overindulge in food. But this month is not meant to be used as a crutch for laziness or a reason to eat whatever we want. We forget that keeping our bodies healthy can be an act of worship and in turn, make us realize our goal of becoming even closer to Allah (swt) during this month.
InshAllah with just a few easy steps (literally), you can stay healthy while gaining the spiritual benefit that comes with exercise this Ramadan.
Walk to buy your groceries
We all know how easy it is to opt out of walking and take the car instead, especially when we begin to feel lethargic from fasting. But throughout the day, our metabolism greatly slows down due to the absence of food and water. Taking just a 30 minute walk is enough to speed up your metabolism so that by the time iftar comes, your body is less likely to store all the carbs as fat.
For many college students there is most likely a market walking distance from school or residential area. Refine your intentions to walk to buy your food; think about the Muslims in other countries that must walk miles just for clean water and food and then carry them all the way back. To walk for food in solidarity with these fellow brothers and sisters allows for spiritual growth.
Keep track of how much time you spend on social networking and media while fasting.
As we become more anxious to eat towards iftar, it becomes more appealing to kill time by with entertainment. We all know that this time really should be spent more productively, especially towards spiritual growth. Catch yourself when you begin to spend a little too much time in front of the computer or TV during Ramadan and think about how much time you spent doing those activities.
Begin by replacing just 30 minutes with taking a walk around the block in order to get the minimum amount of exercise your body needs while fasting.
Didn’t make time to work out a little while fasting? Eat healthy!
It’s a common misconception that losing weight is easier during Ramadan when, unfortunately, gaining weight is usually
more common. Fasting the entire day often leads people to think that it’s okay to eat a large amount of food. But because metabolism is much slower than normal after fasting, carbohydrates are more readily stored as fat and in turn, contribute to weight gain.
Considering how late iftar is over the summer, it’s essential to monitor caloric intake. Make simple adjustments to your iftar dinners, like avoid eating simple carbohydrates and “empty calories” (food high in calories but low in nutritional value). You can renew your intentions for iftar by making food choices that are balanced and healthy for your body.
Don’t feel like leaving the house? Stretch!
This simple exercise allows for muscles to stay engaged, allowing for increased blood flow and metabolism regulation. If you are not used to stretching, start out by looking up simple stretches for your back and legs that can be done while sitting.
Yoga is also excellent during Ramadan for this reason. It is low impact, easy to do at home, and keeps you in good shape without causing fatigue. Stretching and yoga helps you appreciate the mobility and fine movements Allah (swt) has blessed you with.
If you are an athlete, do not over-train!
Understand your limits during Ramadan. In this month, do not try to push yourself to a new level as you will lack the adequate caloric intake needed for this adjustment while you are fasting.
Normally after an intense workout it is important to have protein and fluids to replenish lost nutrients and prevent muscle wasting. This is why weight-lifting while fasting should be avoided!
Instead, modify your workout by choosing cardio activities with moderate resistance, such as swimming and jogging. And most importantly, listen to your body and take a break if you need to!
Have a healthy and productive Ramadan!
Thank you for these awesome tips. I felt so guilty after reading this, fried foods for iftar is like a given in a Southasian household!
Awesome tips, Jazaks!
Also, do you have any recommendations on what to eat for suhoor to keep energy up? I’ve been getting tired easily and it has been affecting my productivity.
Hana- cinnamon works great for keeping your energy going. It increases blood sugar, so sprinkle some over a peanut butter sandwich or have some with tea. Also, avoid eating too many simple carbohydrates because those can spike your blood sugar then make it crash suddenly, giving you that tired feeling. I recommend eating foods higher in potassium and vitamin C. Orange juice and bananas are excellent choices for this.
Thanks for the wonderful tips! I was also wondering if you have any recommendations for suhoor. I know that eating eggs for breakfast gives you more energy since it is packed with Vitamin B12 and oatmeal is good because of its high fiber content, but any other suggestions?
Neda Momeni, this is wonderful!
A few more tips:
The body gets the most rest before midnight. Sleep no later than 11pm so you can feel more energized after suhoor.
Fruits to eat: blueberries, bananas, oranges, and apples. Make a smoothie the night before if you can.
Carbs: Stick to wheat bread and AVOID bagels. They are very dense, and are basically donuts without the sugar when it comes to calories.
Thanks Neda, great tips!