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Guidance for staying active during Ramadan

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Rubina Khan

Guidance for staying active during Ramadan

We had the chance to get the views of Rubina Khan from Crawley Borough Council who is a keen advocate for getting people active as well as a practising Muslim. As the Weight and Management Coordinator at Crawley Wellbeing and an Exercise Referral trainer, Rubina is a great authority for providing Ramadan guidance in the county.

It can be difficult to stay active during Ramadan due to the lack of food and water in the day, however, there are some tips and tricks to get you through the final stages this year that you can try to give you more energy throughout the days.

Fuel right from the start:

Sahari, the meal before dawn breaks, is vital for fuelling an active day before the next meal at sunset.

“At Sahari, drink water and eat food that keeps you full for longer. Everyone’s metabolism is unique so this will vary from person to person. Proteins are a good source for this, for example, eggs, fish, cheese or chickpeas.

“At that time in the morning, some people find it difficult to eat anything too filling, so sticking to their regular breakfast might be advisable. But eating healthy is important. Unfortunately, some people skip breakfast because the body is not used to eating at this time and it’s difficult to wake up at that time of the day. This will be a problem for anyone who is going to undertake physical activity during the day.”

Physical activity should be planned carefully in advance during Ramadan:

It is smart to plan your exercise for just before Iftari (meal after the sun sets) so that you can refuel with food and water soon after. Alternatively, if practical, exercise could also be planned following Iftari.

“If Iftari is at 6pm for example, and you want a 45-minute exercise, then 5.15pm is when you should start the exercise. When the activity is complete, you can drink soon after to quench the thirst and avoid dehydration. Eating at this point is also the best time for the body to absorb nutrients efficiently.

“I would recommend very gentle exercise, for example, walking at a moderate pace, again towards the end of the day. Sweating will cause dehydration thus negatively impacting on the fasting participant.”

Avoid temptation and eat the right foods:

When it is time to break your fast, you should avoid the temptation to eat unhealthily, rather, eat the right food which will help to fuel you through the following day.

“At Iftari, most Muslims will break their fast with a date and a drink, as this is the norm. Dates are good nutritionally and for instant energy release, much needed by the tired participant. Water is the best drink.

“After this, most Muslims will offer prayers and then the main meal is eaten. I always recommend that people prepare their meal in advance with healthy options. Most families will prepare food that they will eat at Iftari for example batters for fried foods such as samosas and pakoras.

“The sensible option is to have a bowl of salad or fruit ready for eating. If the healthy options are at the forefront, on the table then hopefully the right choices will be made. When the body is starved for most of the day it will happily accept any food, so people should take advantage of this. Fruit and vegetables provide the fibre, vitamins and minerals needed by the fasting body.”

It should also be noted that, for those with any serious health concerns or those who are pregnant/menstruating, any physical activity should be carefully considered – contact a GP if in doubt.

For young people participating in Ramadan and for those supporting them, visit our other article here: https://www.activesussex.org/new-physical-activity-ramadan-guidance-for-schools/

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