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How to stay healthy and fit while fasting this Ramadan

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Fasting has long been known for its health benefits, however, it can actually put a lot of strain on the body – which makes exercise and good nutrition difficult to maintain during the Holy Month, a time when dehydration, decreased muscle-mass, and weight-gain are common amongst those who fast.

It means for those who want to maintain or improve their health and fitness, Ramadan can be something of a metabolic minefield, and as much damage limitation needs to be put into action as possible so as to not suffer severe health-related problems during and after Ramadan.

As many of us are aware, daytime life moves at a slower pace during the Holy Month, and then completely changes up at night when Muslims break their fast. Once they enjoy Iftar and begin eating and socializing with friends and family, people generally feel more energetic. Take note: Ramadan should not be used as an excuse to take a break from exercising as it’s extremely important that you do some form of physical activity over Ramadan as without it, and in the absence of a regular eating pattern, your metabolism will gradually slow down and your body will not operate at its optimum level which in turn can lead to weight gain!

Here are some ways to stay healthy and wit while fasting.

1. Drink water before starting your fast

Prepare for your day of fasting by drinking enough water throughout the night. Keep a bottle of water close by during the evening, and try to drink a cup or two at least every hour. An easy way to remember to drink water is to associate it with a common, daily act. Multiple health websites suggest taking a drink whenever your phone rings. We suggest drinking water when commercials come on during your favourite TV show.

2. Fashion matters

Be careful when picking your daytime clothes during Ramadan. The colour of your shirt, the fabric of your pants, and the layers of clothes all play an important role in keeping your body temperature as low as possible. If you work indoors, pick a light-coloured shirt; if most of your day is spent outside, a darker colour will protect you from the effects of the sun. Black, however, is not advisable, as it tends to attract the heat and lock it close to your body. A loose cotton T-shirt, which allows your sweat to evaporate, is a better idea.

3. Cold showers

Colds showers help in many ways to rehydrate you during the month of Ramadan. After a couple of days of fasting, thirst becomes a normal feeling, so try to notice other obvious signs of dehydration: cracked lips, flushed skin, fatigue, increased body temperature, and increased breathing and pulse-rate, followed by dizziness, increased weakness, and laboured breathing.

If you feel one or more of these symptoms, you should try to lower your body temperature in any way possible. Spend 5-10 minutes with the base of your head under direct, cool water. You can also wet a small towel with ice water and apply the towel to your forehead, the area around your ears, the base of your neck, the upper back, and the chest.

4. Plan your menu                                        

What you eat plays a huge part in dehydrating or hydrating your body. Food that contains a lot of sugar (such as Ramadan sweets) can really dehydrate you, while fruit is perfect for providing extra water. So, instead of ending your Iftar feast with piles of sweets, eat a couple of slices of watermelon, or an orange. Green salads are another good source of extra water, so include them in your Ramadan diet.

5. Working out

Because you lose a lot of water when you sweat, working out can undoubtedly cause dehydration. But exercising also helps your body dispose of toxins and other harmful elements that might cause dehydration later on. Try to counter-balance the amount of water lost by drinking water before you go to sleep.

Moving your body gently, replenishing your natural energy stores with pure water and healthful foods will keep you feeling happy, healthy and energetic during this special season. Ramadan Mubarak!

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