Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Exercising While Fasting

If you haven't come across it yet, there's a good article about working out in Ramadan over at Suhaib Webb's blog: The Ramadan Nutrition and Workout Plan for Success.

Included are good tips and advice for maintaining an exercise routine during the fasts of Ramadan. Unfortunately, I don't think all the advice is actually practical this year--especially in northern latitudes (like Seattle.) Specifically, timing a workout after taraweeh prayers doesn't seem realistic given that isha is not prayed until almost 11pm, and the fasting starts around 4am. So in five hours there is taraweeh prayers (around 2 hours here, I'm told,) and you also want to get up for suhoor and possibly tahajjud as well (especially in the last 10 nights), so I'll say at least an hour, i.e., 3am start all that. Which gives you from 1am-3am for sleeping and exercise. (What!?)

Alright, so I'm not sure if anyone will be sleeping at night around here this Ramadan, since there's not enough time for anything more than a nap--and an extremely disrupted sleep schedule. But working out? At 1am? Seriously?

What kind of workout can you do at 1am, anyway? I have a few training sessions left that will last in to Ramadan, meaning that I have to meet with my personal trainer during Ramadan. And the earliest I can meet her is 5:30am, and the latest I can meet her is 7:30 pm. That's over an hour after fasting begins, and an hour before it ends. And I'm not sure which is better.

Personally, I think I'd rather do my workouts in the gym--where it's safe, well-lit, and a variety of equipment is available. The only exercise I can do at 1am is run. I love riding my bike but I just don't feel safe after dusk.

I've also heard other suggestions about the hours before iftar being a good time to workout. The problem is that after a day of fasting, the body will be weak and dehydrated, but afterwards the body will be extremely ready to receive nutrients. Also, you can rehydrate almost immediately.

I'm thinking I'll give both options a try in the first week and decide what works better for the remaining sessions. Thankfully, my trainer is giving me that flexibility and I won't have to meet her at our normal time of 1pm--at which time there is no benefit whatsoever, except perhaps that the gym isn't crowded.

Anyone else have any thoughts?


mezba said...

I usually work out before Iftar (squash, running etc.) and I find that after a couple of days the body adapts. There is a challenge not to eat a lot at iftar (after all you will almost be dead lol) but if you can manage that then it's all good.

question: can you swim while fasting?

mezba said...

Also, a good suhoor is a must. You must eat food that release energy slowly throughout the day.

Tanya said...

I worry about your working out in the morning and not being able to replenish fluids or working out before iftar when your muscles are dehydrated.

How about using an exercise dvd so you can work out safely at home when its dark outside? I happen to love fitness dvds. There is a great forum linked to VF is not linked to any manufacturers just a bunch of folk that work out at home. The ladies there might be able to give you some good recommendations based on exercise you enjoy and your equipment (or lack thereof). I'm happy to recommend some of my favorites if you shoot me an email.

Anywhoo something to consider.

Amy said...

I wouldn't swim while fasting, personally--too much risk of just swallowing a lot of water. But also, I don't really go swimming in general since it's hard to find appropriate clothing for it, and it's also annoying to have so much exposed flesh around (at pools and such) even if it's not mine.

Suhoor is really important--protein, healthy fats, and slow-releasing carbs like whole grains--oatmeal, for example. Beans and lentils are good too, because they have protein and fiber, a good carb source.

Tanya--I've never had good experience working out at home. Exercise DVDs really just aren't my cup of tea. Being on a 2nd floor apartment means I'd also be annoying my neighbors at 1am.

Since there's kind of a while between maghrib and isha, I think I can actually break my fast with something light but nourishing and on most days exercise right after iftar--the gym is open until 11. And then, shower and catch taraweeh. I have about 4-6 days where I have to meet with my trainer, and 2-3 of them will be while I'm not fasting (for my period) which makes it easier too, cutting down on times I'll have to workout during the fast.

Saladin said...

I'm thinking the only practical thing is to workout just before Iftar. Anything else is just asking for trouble. At least my gym is only a few blocks from my apartment.

Anonymous said...


I am so glad somebody has tackled this issue. I read the s.webb article. I too found it unrealsitic to say the least. if you have a look you will find the article has been reposted. So they have not taken this years timings into consideration. I too am an avid gym goer - 5-6 times a week.

I took into consideration the timings, have suhoor, going to school/work, iftari, reading the quran, reading extra nawfil, reading tarawee and inshalah tahujjud. its a hefty timetable in itself. Perhaps it is better to follow the path that will lead to Allah, better to prefer him over our own desires. There is enough in ramdan to keep everyone busy. The gym goers will find it hard to put the schedule on hold, but doing so otherwise is not feasible unless you have a lot time on your hands you can fit everthing in.

Others says you need to exercise to give you strength, but like you mentioned that isha will be late at night. People ought to conserve their energy for this - its enough exercise in itself. If we will get tired. we will not reach our goals this ramdan, which is why you tend to find people burning out in the middle, only to find 20 days have gone by.

Eating sensibly and drinking enough will be the real challenge, people seem to want to subsitute it for all the fried food they have eaten over ramadan. We have all been victims of this, and the result is the same - lazyness when it comes to our ibadat.

Its only a month, 30 days, so much mercy is being descended upon us. If doing exercise will get you closer to Allah swt then do it for that reason ONLY.

Thats my two cents.

Wish everyone the best ramdan of their lives.

Lisa Roberts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Roberts said...

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