Keeping up with your workouts when you’re fasting during Ramadan isn’t easy. It’s even harder when you’re not drinking water from sunrise to sunset as summer approaches. But there are ways to safely maintain your fitness routine – from making tweaks to the type of exercise you do, the duration of your workout, and when you exercise to managing food and water intake before and after your fast.
“We’ve introduced specific timings for our classes during Ramadan to help our clients manage their workouts in the safest and most effective way,” says Ivana Bruic, Co-Founder and Master Instructor of Storm Cycling in Mirdif. “We’ve introduced special classes at 5:30pm for those who want to exercise just before breaking their fast, and classes at 9:30pm and 10:30pm for clients who prefer to exercise after.”
Fitness experts agree that continuing to exercise during Ramadan is essential for both your physical and mental well-being, as sitting all day long or sleeping erratic hours can make you feel even more fatigued. But being more aware of your body’s needs whilst you’re fasting is vital to ensure your workout is safe and effective. So what should you be doing to make sure your health doesn’t suffer when you’re fasting?
Watch the Video: Staying Fit Whilst Fasting
Hydrate as Much as You Can, When You Can
Reduce your risk of dehydration by drinking as much water as possible between iftar and suhoor, especially if you plan to work out before you break your fast the following day. Aim for four or five large glasses of water before sunrise to ensure you’re hydrated for the day ahead.
Find Your Own Workout Time
“Each person has a different optimum time to get their workout in,” explains Ivana. “The idea is to maximise each person’s optimum time to get their workout in. So whether it suits you better to do a less-intense class just before you break your fast or a harder workout after iftar so your energy stores have been boosted, it’s totally your call.” If you’re a morning person and usually work out early anyway, a super-early morning workout before sunrise can boost your energy levels for the day ahead.
Switch Up Your Workouts
Following an intense cardio-based workout schedule while you’re fasting is significantly challenging, so changing your workout to one with fewer reps and more recovery time will help you manage your energy. If you love HIIT, swap to strength training, a slower and more controlled workout that won’t induce as much sweating and make you need to rehydrate as much.
Break Your Fast with the Right Foods
“Dates are the traditional food chosen to break a fast for a reason – they’re the perfect source of natural energy,” explains Ivana. “Rehydrating with lots of water is vital, and nut milk is also a great way to boost your energy levels. But if you’re planning to exercise after iftar, make sure you don’t eat heavily and allow two to three hours until you exercise in order to allow the food to digest properly.”
Make Suhoor a Smart Meal
Eating something comprised of complex carbohydrates – like porridge or oats with banana, dates, and nuts – will give slow-release energy throughout the day and keep rumbling tummies at bay.
Work, Rest, Pray
Waking up early to pray and going to bed late means that getting enough sleep can be difficult, so if you’re working out too, you’re going to need to build adequate recovery time into your schedule. It may not be something you’ll want to do after Ramadan, but naps are super-important for recovery whilst fasting.
Strategic napping – like a short nap after your first morning prayer and a workout three hours later or a nap a few hours before it’s time to break your fast – can really help energy levels. “You may feel really lightheaded during the first few days of fasting, so if you’re able to fit in a power nap or two in the daytime, you’ll feel more clear-headed and energised,” adds Ivana.