Lockdown has made many of us differ in our exercise routines and training. With gyms closed and our exercise limited to an hour a day, many individuals lost their fitness buzz, whilst others upped their fitness game trying new activities to get them fit and healthy.
Exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle during lockdown was difficult for many. Now that gyms and activity centres have reopened their doors, many individuals have thrown themselves back into the swing of training and exercising. But some are heading back into this challenge whilst not eating or drinking for a significant part of the day.
This month the Islamic month of Ramadan has started. Practicing Muslims from around the UK and across the world fast between dawn and sunset for 30 days, thus abstaining from food or drink during this time period.
Here are Phoenix Fitness’ top tips for exercising, eating and sleeping well during Ramadan:
- Remember to listen to your body and be sensible with your choices.
That’s right. Do what is right for you. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to continue with your usual fitness regime. If your body tells you the workout is too intense, then lower or simplify it. You know your body, listen to it.
- Try and get as much sleep as you can where and when you can.
During Ramadan, individual sleep patterns change, with many waking up in the middle of the night to cook food and pray. This new routine means that many lose a significant amount of their sleep and can get as little as 3-5 hours a night. It has been proven that individuals who sleep well, have less cravings or want to snack in the day, which is ideal for those who are fasting. Try your best to unwind and get as much sleep as you can.
- If you are a training Muslim athlete, consider splitting up your fast to different parts of the year.
Many professional Muslim athletes have support from their clubs and dieticians who help them manage with the fasting, energy levels and diet during Ramadan. Some of these athletes have been known to limit the intensity of their training or split their fast to other parts of the year when their training or competitions are less intense.
- Want to retain muscle during Ramadan? Limit your cardio!
During Ramadan, an average person can lose from 5kg-9kg in weight. This kind of weight loss can also result in the loss of muscle and tone in your physique. To retain muscle during Ramadan, try limiting your cardio to once or twice a week.
- Waking up in the middle of the night, when you’re just not hungry…
…but you know you have to eat. Changes in our daily routines and sleep patterns can knock us massively. During Ramadan, individuals will wake up in the middle of the night to eat during the designated eating hours. Not only does fasting make you tired and lethargic, but you can also feel put off food and not want to eat in the middle of the night. As much as you might not feel like eating, it is SO important that you try to get nutrients into your body. Try to eat fluid rich foods, full of nutritional goodness such as fruit, vegetables, stews and soups. Slow-release foods such as oars, whole grains, pulses and high fibre foods will also release energy gradually, helping to keep you going during fasting hours.
- Food is good, but hydration is even more important!
Many will head straight towards eating foods, but it is vital to replace the fluids which you have lost during the day also! Upping your intake of fluids will immediately give you some energy and you will start the next day of fasting hydrated and somewhat satisfied.
- Save your more intense workouts and strength training until you have broken your fast.
Once you have refuelled your body with food and drink, your energy stores will have built up overnight. Consider doing more intense workouts when you wake up before dawn, that way you will be able to have a nutritious breakfast after your session before the sun rises, setting you up for the day.
- What should I train during daylight, fasting hours?
If you need to exercise or train in daylight hours, focus on LISS training that will not exert your energy levels too much. Example of LISS exercise is walking, gentle jogging Pilates, stretching and other low aerobic intensity training.
- Make small changes to your exercise routine.
Don’t feel like you have to go full steam ahead with training and exercise during Ramadan. Making small changes to your routine will all go towards helping to feel fit and healthy. Consider walking instead of using the car, taking the stairs instead of the lift and try gentle stretches to relax and keep your body supple.
- This is only short term!
The month of Ramadan may make some of your feel a little low about your fitness routine. Use Ramadan as an opportunity to think about yourself, your body and your nutrition. This month will let you assess your lifestyle and will potentially raise some questions for you to consider; do you drink enough water usually? Is your diet good? Are you exercising enough or are you exercising too much? Making these positive changes to your lifestyle will set you up so that you can continue some of them out of Ramadan.