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Maintaining exercise habits during fasting
May 25, 2017, 11:24 am

If you are planning to quit your exercise routine during Ramadan, think again. Experts are of the opinion that exercise and fasting can go hand in hand. Here are some tips on how to maintain your workout plans while you fast during the holy month.   

The exceptions: There are some exceptions to exercising during fasting. For instance, if you suffer from any chronic diseases, injury or complication, you can continue to exercise, but with caution.

In particular, people with type 1 diabetes should not exercise at all, as this can upset their glucose levels profoundly. Type 2 diabetics, however, can continue to exercise at a low-intensity level, but for a maximum of 30 minutes, focusing on aerobic and strength training.

If you suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension, you can also continue to exercise, but at low-intensity, or around 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. For example: a 60-year old woman’s maximum heart rate would be 160 beats per minute and 75 percent of 160 is 120 beats per minute. So, a 60-year old hypertensive woman should not exercise during Ramadan at a heart rate of more than 120 beats per minute. These maximum heart rates depend on age, gender and health risk factors.

If you are recovering from an injury or any other health complications, when fasting, exercise at low-intensity for a maximum of 30 minutes, as your body will be using more energy during the recovery phase of injury or pain. This is because not enough energy and glycogen stores are retained for more than 30 minutes when exercising.

In addition, people with chronic diseases or complications often do not take their medication while fasting, which makes it difficult to manage sugar and cholesterol levels and blood pressure during Ramadan. 

When to exercise: The ideal time to train is about 90 minutes before sunset (Iftar). After a moderate exercise session, you will not be able to adequately replenish the glycogen stores you burnt during exercise, thus resulting in symptoms like dizziness and nausea. This time is ideal because you will be breaking your fast soon afterwards and replacing the energy and glycogen you lost when exercising.

Here are some tips for exercising during Ramadan:

  • Terminate exercise immediately when feeling dizzy or nauseous
  • Plan when to sleep and when to wake up
  • Consider naps and schedule rests as your body experiences more fatigue during Ramadan
  • Have a ‘working lunch’ (since you do not have to eat), then arrange with your boss to leave an hour earlier at the end of the day. This will allow you to get in some time for training before you break your fast.
  • Intermittent exercises such as Action Soccer or cricket after sunset and evening prayer is a good way to maintain physical activity and fitness
  • Endurance, speed and agility training should be avoided completely.

Diet and hydration guidelines:

  • Try to consume 6 to 10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight
  • Eat 1.2 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight
  • Your fat intake should be 20 to 30 percent of your total energy intake
  • Be sure to drink sufficient fluids to prevent a water deficit
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