Doing exercise during Ramadan doesn’t have to be a total write off. In fact, with some advice from the experts, it’s still something you can do safely and sustainably over the thirty-day period of reflection. The top line is not to push yourself. Your focus should be on three things:
- maintaining your fitness,
- creating a sustainable (and safe) exercise routine and
- concentrating on nutrient-dense and water-rich foods.
1. Find a time that works best for you
Exercising in a fasted state is not an easy feat, especially when you add in daily stressors and warmer weather. Finding the best time for you will be a major key to keeping your exercise routine safe and sustainable.
2. Aim to maintain
Now is not the time to be trying to hit personal bests or 1 rep maxes. Instead, look to maintain what you’ve already achieved.
3. Double down on hydration between iftar and suhoor
Lack of water is something to be on the lookout for. It will make exercise feel more difficult and cause you to fatigue faster, as well. Fortunately, there are some tips to make the time you’re not drinking water a little easier.
- Keep yourself well hydrated between iftar and suhoor (between breaking the fast and starting the next one)
- keep a water bottle with you and drink regularly throughout this time. This will ensure you are well hydrated before the start of the next fast
- Another good point to note is that hydration doesn’t have to come only from the tap – eating fluid-rich fruits and vegetables when you break your fast will help to keep you replenished and hydrated, too.
High-water content fruits and vegetables
4. Watch out for the warning signs of dehydration
If you’re doing everything to stay hydrated between suhoor and iftar but still experiencing any of the following symptoms, pull back on exercise and try to bring your heart rate down.
- Dark urine
- Feeling very thirsty
- Muscle cramps
- Fast heart rate
Severe symptoms of dehydration also include confusion, weakness and loss of consciousness – if you experience any of these symptoms seek immediate medical attention.
5. Don’t be afraid to scale back the intensity
It’s difficult to switch gears, especially if you’ve been getting after your workouts with progress on the mind. However, taking a few steps back might be the key to keeping your exercise sustainable during Ramadan.
6. Focus on strength training
Ramadan might be the time to priorities strength training over cardio workouts as it’ll help to slow down the process of muscle loss while fasting.
7. Keep an eye on how much cardio you’re doing
The flipside of spending more time on strength training is pulling back on the amount and intensity of your cardio workouts (and cardio home workouts, too).
So, gentle jogs, light walks and cardio that doesn’t take you into out of breath or exhausted territory. And, if you exercise outside, be careful of how warm it is – it’s best to avoid exercising in high temperatures or in the sun for too long.
8. It’s fine to increase how many rest days you’re taking
Ramadan is not the time to push yourself to your limits physically. Adding more rest days into your routine is advisable – I would advise adding one to two extra rest days. You could train one day and rest the next, alternating that throughout the week.
9. Go for high-fiber and protein-rich foods when you break your fast
Combining high-fiber starchy foods and quality sources of protein is the most important thing during Ramadan.
High fiber foods are digested slowly and release energy slowly.
- Whole wheat grains
- Brown rice
- Potatoes with the skin on
- Vegetables such as green beans
- Almost all fruits, including dried fruits
Combine these foods with good sources of protein such as milk, yoghurt, beans, fish or meat. This combination will ensure a stable level of glucose in your blood so less likely to feel hungry the next day.
10. Skip excess salt, caffeine and foods that will make you thirstier
Some foods will naturally make you thirstier. It’s kind of their thing. Unfortunately, they’re some of the most delicious and widely eaten things in everyday life: salt and caffeine.