Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Exercising during Ramadan Month

Mon 25 Mar 2024 | 06:41 PM
Ahmed Emam

Muslims fast every day during Ramadan, from dawn until sunset. They consume two main meals each day, one before sunrise called Sahur, and one to break the fast after sunset known as Iftar. 

Traditional foods during Ramadan include fresh fruits, vegetables, halal meats, chicken, fish, dairy, beans, breads, rice, noodles, cheeses, and sweets. When breaking the fast, many start with water, sweet drinks, juices, or soups, followed by a few dates, always an odd number (1, 3, or 5) and never too many, to follow the example of the prophet who is said to have broken his fast with three dates. 

During Ramadan, Muslims may change their sleep routine due to the feeding schedule around sunrise and sunset and attending social gatherings or celebrations at night. As a result, sleep quantity and quality may decrease, specifically an overall decrease in the total sleep time, with sleep quality deteriorating as the month goes on.

It is natural during this time that performance and physiological adaptations develop. Small performance impairments, particularly repeated high-intensity efforts, tend to be more apparent in the initial days of Ramadan and subside by the end of the month. Mean and peak power during both bike-based and running-based (repeated sprint test) exercises were decreased during Ramadan, especially when exercise was performed in the afternoon.

Therefore, it could be argued that such activities may best be performed shortly after Iftar to attenuate these small losses. Training late in the day may also optimize nutrition interventions: pre-training energy stores can be fully loaded prior to exercise, and post-training recovery nutrition can promote adaptations to the training stimulus, optimize nutrient timing, and help to reduce muscle damage.

Maintaining a regular routine of physical activity during Ramadan can be challenging. Here are some things to consider for those observing the fast during the Holy Month:

- Take breaks and rest: Whether training alone or competing as part of a team, there should be more breaks to rest and recover when exercising during the fast.

- Get sufficient rest: It is essential to schedule adequate rest time during the fasting period to allow the body to recover. Due to late-night prayers and fatigue, a power nap during afternoons can be very beneficial.

- Eat healthily: When breaking the fast at sunset, there should be a focus on eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to keep your body fueled for longer.

- Stay hydrated: Drink enough water and consume sufficient electrolytes after sunset to stay hydrated throughout the day.

- Seek medical advice: If a participant suffers from any medical condition, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before fasting or training during Ramadan.