Fasting is a test of patience and willpower. It takes effort and determination both physically and mentally.
Implementing a training regime without due planning and consideration, during the fast, can be somewhat tricky (ok “regime” sounds a bit harsh, “plan” sounds less aggressive – happy ).
For those of you who want to exercise during the month of Ramadan (Islamic month – in which Muslims fast), consider the information below before you undertake something which may have a detrimental result.
Is it good to exercise whilst fasting?
Very simply, yes!
Now the elaborated answer:
Our blood circulates through the veins and arteries in our body as a direct result of the heart, the blood systems “pump”.
Don’t worry this is relevant I promise!
We also have another system in the body called the Lymphatic System, which is a network of nodes and ducts that are distributed throughout the body (high concentration of these nodes are found in the neck, arm pits, chest and groin). The lymph system carries and transports waste products to the centre of the body, where it can be eliminated.
Now, unlike the circulatory (blood) system the lymph system does not have a pump (e.g. heart), the lymphatic fluid is moved through muscular contractions.
See I told you it was relevant!
This doesn’t mean go and run a marathon or bench press 300kg, it just means that one should engage in moderate activity that will stimulate muscular contractions. This could range from walking, stretching, deep breathing, to exercising a little time before breaking the fast (hence you can replenish your energy stores when you finish training).
If you have time to exercise a little while after you have finished your fast, this would be better. An experiment in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that fasting before exercise increases fat utilisation and lowers the rate of muscle glycogen (i.e. the carbohydrates stored in the muscle) depletion (this information is in relation to fasts that are less than 24 hours and as a result liver glycogen is not depleted – the opposite is true if the fast is 24 hours or more).
A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that the weight loss of a fasting group and that of an exercise (aerobic) whilst fasting group was literally the same (marginal differences), though the group that was fasting whilst exercising lost weight considerably quicker (27 days as opposed to 41 days).
For those of you who were engaging in regular activity before Ramadan, it should be ok to exercise during your fast – though I recommend that you take it easier than usual (i.e. less volume and therefore duration) and to train shortly before you break your fast or a while after. Those who have not been exercising consistently should take up light exercises (e.g. stretching, walking up stairs etc.), gradually increase the intensity (if at all required) and perform them during the fast or shortly before or after breaking the fast (i.e. during the period they can eat).
Getting carried away could result in headaches, vomiting and even passing out, so be very careful. Your body has enough pressure detoxing (i.e. whilst fasting) and if you over exert yourself, you could compromise your ability to fast every day this month.
References available upon request.
- Intermittent Fasting and Caloric Restriction: Eat What You want?
- 10 Benefits of Cardio/Aerobic Exercise
- Exercise and Depression
- Green Tea and Resistance Training
- Berries: improve cholesterol, blood pressure and heart health
- Fruits: with or without a meal?
- Ramadan: A Nutrition Solution?
- Probiotics ease gut problems in people with HIV/AIDS
- Bold Sole Sista
- Osteoporosis: Eight tips