What is the best time to exercise during Ramadan? This is a frequent question as the month of Ramadan approaches every year, some explains that they go out to play soccer in the evenings before breakfast. I myself have done so as a child. To answer this question I did some reading to answer how to reap the benefits of exercise during the holy month of Ramadan. It was hard job to find research papers on fasting and exercise due to few available on the subject.
In a research conducted by the Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Casablanca, the effects are more chronobiological than physiological. The research states …
Ramadan fasting did not dramatically affect the metabolism of lipids, carbohydrates and proteins, or the daily mean of hormonal serum levels. An increase in serum urea and uric acid was frequently reported and this could be attributed to dehydration during the month. Some changes, such as the increase of HDL and decrease in LDL would be beneficial for the cardiovascular system. However the chronobiological studies have shown that Ramadan fasting effects the circadian distribution of body temperature, cortisol, melatonin and glycemia. Nocturnal sleep, daytime alertness and psychomotor performances are decreased.
Research concluded as the major changes during Ramadan fasting are chronobiological and behavioral. They could be responsible for the high incidence of road traffic accidents and the reduction of working hours during the month of Ramadan.
Another study from University of Malaya, Malaysia confirms decrease in body weight by the 2nd week with a greater decline in females. The lower bodyweights were maintained throughout the fasting month with a return to pre-fasting values when normal feeding patterns were re-established. Resting heart rate of males was markedly lowered in the month of Ramadan while responses in the female were only slightly decreased. Total skin-fold thickness and total muscle girth showed similar changes although the trends were not statistically significant the research said.
Due to these reasons it is understood that changes should be made in your exercise regime during the month of Ramadan. Below are some guidelines how to proceed.
1 – If you exercise on a regular basis, make Ramadan a month you could exercise every other day to give your body adequate rest and time to recover.
2 – Plan and eat good nutritious food at night to provide essential vitamins and minerals to your body.
3 – After looking on the above studies it is advised to do your exercise sessions after breakfast at night as your body lacks motor coordination and alertness.
4 – I’ve seen some individuals putting on a harsh diet during the Ramadan in order to see a big weight loss, it is not advisable to do so as proven research confirms a drop in bodyweight due to fasting.
5 – Make your exercise session shorter and less intense during Ramadan.
6 – If you are new comer to exercise do not start an exercise session without supervision of a qualified professional who will guide you through proper intensity and adaptations.
7 – Hydrate yourself throughout the exercise session as often as you can to prevent dehydration by fluid loss.
I hope the above guidelines will give you some information to exercise safely during the month of Ramadan.
HAPPY RAMADAN TO ALL READERS
Physiological and Chronobiological Changes during Ramadan Intermittent Fasting - Rachida Roky, Imad Houti, Samya Moussamih, Souad Qotbi, Nadia Aadil.
Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Casablanca, Morocco
Effects of Fasting in Ramadan on Tropical Asiatic Moslems – By R.Husain, M.T. Duncan, S.H.Cheah and S.L. Ch’ng, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia