The holy month is here which means many Muslims, throughout the UAE, are fasting. It is a common misconception to cut back on all exercise during this time when in reality, whether fasting or not, it’s still important to keep healthy, maintain energy levels and to remain active. Continuing to exercise will help you to maintain mizan, or balance, which is achieved when the physical, mental and spiritual lives work in unison.
This week, Guillaume Mariole, from Ignite fitness & wellness, shares some advice to keep you on the right track when making food, exercise and wellness choices.
Exercise is Good. Contrary to popular belief, if you are fasting exercise is in fact good for you; it is both energising and revitalising and can also help to distract you from thinking constantly about food and drink.
Furthermore, many people find they gain weight during Ramadan as once the fast is broken in the evening, food is consumed in abundance and then sleep overtakes you, causing your body to slow down.
To avoid weight gain and to keep up with your routine, follow these 15 tips for exercise and iftar:
1-Adjust your fitness goals if fasting. You will have less energy so don’t commit to over ambitious fitness goals. Strive instead to maintain your current level of fitness.
2-Consistency rather than intensity. The first week you may feel that your energy levels are not disturbed however this is not the case. Instead you should reduce your exercise regime by half and maintain this level for the whole month. Don't burn yourself out and then lose motivation and energy to get through the month.
3-Yoga, pilates and swimming are great choices as they won’t lead to excessive sweating and dehydration.
4-Reduce the intensity of your workouts – this will put less stress on your body and help you to remain consistent throughout the month.
5-If you wish to weight-train, do so after breaking your fast and then consume a protein-shake immediately afterwards. This will encourage your body to lose fat and not muscle.
6-Work out your work outs – adapt your exercise plans to fit in with your Ramadan schedule. Plan to exercise when you have the most energy or a few hours before breaking your fast, when you know you can soon re-fuel.
7-Listen to your body and don’t push yourself too far. If you feel light-headed, stop whatever you are doing.
8- Iftars need not necessarily be associated with over-consumption, heartburn and indigestion.
9- Dates and dried fruits are a fantastic choice when fasting; they are absorbed quickly and are high in carbs, therefore giving you energy, iron, to help combat anaemia, and vitamins B & D.
10- Juices help correct water balance in the body and the sugars provide a quick shot of energy.
11- Soup has similar benefits to juices although avoid rich, creamy options and choose clear soups, which are easy to digest. Lentil soup is an all-time Ramadan favourite and is full of healthy ingredients.
12-Yoghurt is known for its cleansing properties and also has great digestion benefits.
13-Foul takes pride on both Iftar and suhour tables and it’s easy to see why. It is inexpensive, high in protein filing and most importantly very energising.
14-Fruits and vegetables are fibre-rich and slow to digest so should not be forgotten. If you think you might not be getting enough, a comprehensive multi-vitamin is a good idea.
15-Nuts need not be entirely avoided. The body needs fats and nuts have the unsaturated (healthy) fats. Almonds and walnuts are the best options as they have the most positive effect on balancing blood cholesterol which is a big problem here in the UAE.
Make this Ramadan the perfect opportunity to exercise discipline and self-restraint and to detox your body, kick a bad habit or shed a few pounds.
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