Even if you’re enjoying iftar and late-night suhoor at home this Ramadan rather than going out, it’s still easy to let health and fitness routines lapse by eating more and training less.
That’s why Dr Nasr Al Jafari, functional medicine practitioner at DNA Health and Wellness Center in Dubai, and Hala Dakhil, co-founder of the Jeddah-based Pulse Studio KSA, give their top tips for how to have a healthy Holy Month.
Take catch-up naps
With the changes in daily meal timings and social activities during the month of Ramadan, sleep patterns can be disrupted in all dimensions; length, quality, continuity and consistency, says Dr Al Jafari. Missing out on sleep will increase stress levels and hunger cravings, which is why he recommends implementing a routine of keeping to a period of restfulness overnight and adopting the habit of catch-up naps in the day. That will go some way toward alleviating any sleep deficit.
Adopt “movement snacks”
Conversely, ditching a routine, sleeping all day and reducing activity to a minimum is a forgivable temptation, says Dr Al Jafari. However, maintaining some form of regular movement – let’s call them movement snacks – particularly outdoors, will help keep your brain sharp, your energy up and improve your overall resilience. This can be as simple as walking or doing some stretches or short bursts of body weight exercises.
Dakhil recommends that you create a workout plan daily and commit to it as if you had a scheduled gym session with a trainer. It’s important to get your heart rate up at some point, whether it’s before or after breaking your fast, she says. A cardio workout 30 to 45 minutes before breaking your fast is a good idea but if you feel weak, then any movement is better than nothing.
Get a breathing prompt
Ramadan is a time for thought, reflection and rejuvenation, says Dr Al Jafari. It is the perfect time to implement ‘mindfulness’ activities, starting with something simple like breathing. Apple Watch’s simple app Breathe sends regular alerts throughout the day to help you regain control of your breathing, which will lead to an improvement in overall physical and mental wellbeing.
Ramadan is a time for restraint and the traditional way to break the fast is with dates. Resist the urge to gorge during the period of darkness and save the feasting until Eid, say Dr Al Jafari. Reconnect with your hunger cues and use sensible rehydration to help curb cravings.
Home workout videos are a great way to take advantage of your health and wellness. You will find yourself feeling much happier, stronger and maybe even motivated to use the time on your hands to do more than one video, says Dakhil. As the saying goes, “healthy loves company,” so motivate your friends and family to work out with you and keep the competitiveness and support going by synching up with Apple Watch. That way you can share your progress as you close the rings throughout the day and see how well you are all doing.