The Holy Month of Ramadan is well and truly upon us, and while this time of religious introspection is a special and much beloved one, it needn’t be a time in which fitness falls by the wayside.
Despite reduced working hours being enforced across parts of the region, the business world keeps ticking on throughout Ramadan, and for professionals observing the fast, fitness often tends to take a backseat, particularly as the mercury soars to over 40 degrees Celsius.
For many, this is a time defined in part by sluggishness and discomfort, with the regular challenges of day-to-day working life compounded by poor nutrition, limited sleep and reduced physical activity. But finding a balance during Ramadan isn’t impossible – in fact, experts agree that it can be a perfect opportunity to practice both physical and spiritual cleansing. All you need is a little discipline and a willingness to do things a little differently.
The problem with any tradition is that it tends to bring out the same habits year in and year out. We do things ‘just because’, adopting unhealthy behavioural patterns simply due to the fact that we’ve always done so. But by forming new, healthier habits in 2017, you could revolutionise your Ramadan, and enjoy the charitable, family spirit of the Holy Month without the burden of physical maladies or cravings.
Here are five tips to keep you fit and flourishing for the next few weeks:
Fasting doesn’t have to mean foregoing your fitness. Whilst we certainly don’t suggest over-exerting yourself, it’s important to commit to small periods of moderate activity during the Holy Month, preferably just after Suhoor or once you’ve broken your fast for the day. Just 30 minutes of walking will make a huge difference to your overall wellbeing!
Keep Portions Small
After a long day of fasting, it’s tempting (understandably) to eat everything in sight come evening. But according to experts, that’s a mistake. Eating huge portions after sunset can slow down the metabolism, leading to a pervasive sense of sluggishness throughout the day. So rather try to continue with a three-meal-per-day policy, breaking your fast with a light snack before moving onto a more moderate dinner – your body will thank you for it!
Eat The Right Foods At The Right Times
Enduring long periods without food can be made much more manageable simply by eating the right things. Low-GI foods rich in fibre (such as brown rice, beans and whole grains) can help to extend the feeling of fullness for longer, and will go a long way towards sustaining even blood sugar levels throughout the day. Suhoor is your most important meal of the day, so it’s vital that you don’t forego this in favour of extra sleep – ultimately it’ll set the tone for a happier, more productive day.
This might seem like a counter-intuitive statement given that drinking isn’t an option during the fasting period. However, it is possible to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day – it all comes down to good food and drink choices. Make sure to drink plenty of water between Iftar and Suhoor, and avoid diuretic substances like coffee, tea and soda, as these will leave you feeling dehydrated. For an extra boost, consider eating plenty of fruit, as the water contained therein will also promote better functioning throughout the day.
Get Enough Sleep
Reduced intake will undoubtedly leave you feeling lethargic from time to time, and limited sleep will only serve to compound the problem. So try to ensure you get as much shut-eye as you can during Ramadan – even a brief afternoon nap where possible will help to restore energy levels significantly. Early Iftars are also a good idea, as they allow you time to digest before heading to bed, increasing the likelihood of a good night’s sleep.