Ramadan in UAE: Avoid exercising first 3 days during the holy month; here's why

Fitness experts share tips on staying healthy and active while fasting


Lamya Tawfik

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Published: Sun 5 Mar 2023, 5:56 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Mar 2023, 10:20 PM

Ramadan is a time to reflect on one's spiritual and physical well-being. But with all the delicious food on table during Iftar and Suhoor, it's almost impossible not to indulge and grab a few more extra helpings. So, in order to keep those extra kilos off your body, Ramadan is a good time to revisit the health resolution made in the new year.

Whether or not one already has a fitness program in place, there are ways to work out during the holy month for optimal benefit. Pilates trainer Kirsty Nelson says the best time to work out is before breaking the fast.

But first up, here's how to start the month, "they should refrain from exercising during the first three days of Ramadan just to allow their bodies to adjust to the fast. Some people might get headaches," Kirsty said.

Kirsty Nelson
Kirsty Nelson

Exercising before Iftar is ideal, especially for people who have the chance to rest or take a nap after work, explained Kirsty. "They may not get the chance to do high-intensity exercise, but they can do light weights, pilates, toning exercises, cycling or take long walks from 40 minutes to an hour," she said.

Coach Khalil, a certified fitness trainer and specialist in injury rehabilitation, said there are potentially two times suitable for working out during Ramadan for those who excise regularly. The first is 60-90 minutes before Iftar, and the second is 2-3 hours after Iftar. “Some might choose to do cardio training before Iftar and resistance training after Iftar,” he said.

Coach Khalil
Coach Khalil

For people venturing into fitness territory during Ramadan, Kirsty suggests starting light, especially at the beginning of the month. “If someone hasn’t exercised in the past, I suggest a 30-40 min walk. An hour is even better because the body will begin to burn fat,” she said.

Low-intensity exercises, such as brisk walking, stationary bikes, pilates or aqua aerobics are suitable, but Kirsty suggests doing so at least an hour after Iftar.

Coach Khalil, on the other hand, says that newbies should consider light to moderate exercises at least 60 to 90 minutes before Iftar. “Be careful about the intensity of the workout. You can do light to moderate bodyweight training, walking or jogging. It’s important to build the habit, and working out while fasting can help burn calories and encourage weight loss if that’s the goal,” he said. However, he suggested against exercising during the day to avoid exhaustion or dizziness.

Kirsty and Coach Khalil advised against working out right after Iftar to allow time for the food to get digested and avoid discomfort.

“I have some clients who like to exercise after breaking the fast, but that should be done at least an hour later. It’s not comfortable to train with a full stomach. It also depends on what one eats,” said Kirsty.

Coach Khalil advised against consuming heavy meals at Iftar to avoid energy loss and sleepiness. He said that breaking the fast with dates and fruits, then working out and delaying the larger meal for later, is ideal. “At Suhoor, one can have yoghurt and banana. It’s important to keep hydrating from Iftar to Suhoor,” he said.

One should not train or exercise during the hot hours of the day under the sun while fasting as this may lead to dehydration, Khalil said.

Kirsty emphasised the importance of listening to one’s body throughout the month and modifying their fitness routine as the month progresses. “As people get along with their fast, they get used to it. They have more energy to do more before they break the fast because the body is used to it,” she said. “You can always tone your workout down or increase the intensity according to your body,” she said.


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