Ramadan and Fitness
by Musa Bukhari
When we think of Ramadan, we often think of the abstinence from food and drink. We think of the iftars, taraweeh prayers, and reading the Qur'an. Although, all of these virtuous acts of 'ibadah are incredibly important and rewarding, taking care of our physical health in this Ramadan, is just as important. After all, the more we look after our bodies, the more energised our bodies will be for 'ibadah.
The current pandemic of the coronavirus affecting the entire world and, we in the UK, have been under lockdown for more than 6 weeks. This can take a huge toll not only on our bodies but also on our mental health.
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer although there is good in each…” [Narrated by Muslim]
We know it can be very hard to maintain our physical health during Ramadan in lockdown. Since the restrictions have been eased a little, allowing you to exercise for more than 1 hour a day, we’ve compiled a list of ways to maximise your Ramadan and maintain a healthy body.
Eating healthy this month is more crucial than ever. One of the ways to ensure we are healthy is to strengthen our immune systems. This is essential in fighting Covid-19. Eat a healthy meal during suhoor and when breaking your fast at iftar, will help tremendously during the day.
Incorporating fruits and vegetables in your suhoor and iftar helps keep you more energised and focused during the day. It will also help with your mental health, considering the impact this test is having on us, eating healthy directly correlates with how you feel inwards.
"And eat of what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and good. And fear Allah, in whom you are believers." [Surah Al Maidah: verse 88]
Before you close your fast, take a spoon of honey and sprinkle some black seeds onto it as the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Honey is a remedy for every illness and the Quran is a remedy for all illness of the mind, therefore I recommend to you both remedies, the Quran and honey.” [Bukhari]
Aisha also reported: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, ‘This blackseed is healing for all diseases but poison.’ She said, “What is poison?” The Prophet said, ‘Death.’” [Bukhari]
Our beloved Prophet (PBUH) said: “Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth, before you become old; and your health, before you fall sick; and your richness, before you become poor; and your free time before you become busy; and your life, before your death.” [Narrated by Al-Hakim]
Here are a few simple fitness tips you can try:
- Stretch daily- A few minutes after every prayer.
- Take a virtual fitness class- Some light exercises with your friends via Zoom can motivate you and still connect you with loved ones.
- Take a walk daily-Walking briskly daily will help raise your heart rate and keep you toned.
- Do more cardio exercises- These include push-ups, crunches, lunges, and squats. These exercises are very effective in toning your entire physique.
- The best times to work out
- This varies from person to person, but according to the Institute of Human Relations and Clinics, they state the following valuable information:
- Before suhoor: Ideally, the best time to exercise is just before suhoor (the pre-dawn meal). It is best to drink a lot of water and wait half an hour before beginning the exercise. The workout should be limited to a low-to-medium intensity one to prevent muscle loss. With many of us self-isolating, this may be a little easier this year.
- After taraweeh at home: This is a good time for medium-to-high intensity workout, and it is also easy to incorporate in the pre- and post-workout meal.
- After iftar but before taraweeh: The period after iftar but before taraweeh is the third-best option. This is a suitable time for a quick low-medium intensity workout.
- After iftar: The fourth option is to perform cardio exercise around half an hour after iftar. This could be a quick and low to medium-intensity workout - but this should only be done after eating a light iftar meal.
Note that all workouts should be kept between 30 to 60 minutes, and cardiovascular exercises should be limited to twice a week. You should avoid heavy exercises such as running and heavy weight training, but light exercises such as push-ups, Pilates, cycling, and full-body stretching are encouraged.
Regardless of whether you're exercising before or after iftar, if you begin to feel lightheaded, dizzy, or sick, it is best stop and rest immediately.
May Allah bless our Ramadan, protect our health, give us strong immune systems, and allow us to flourish in this beautiful month.