Ramadan: Fasting, Reflection, Physical Activity and Celebration

How much do you know about Ramadan?
Two Leap colleagues, Shaba & Muhsin, give an insight into the holy month of Ramadan and share what it means to them and what difference it makes to their physical activity levels.
Also included are some helpful tips for coaches, instructors, clubs and delivery partners.

 

We all know that being active, sitting less and moving more, is the miracle cure for a better physical and mental health. Staying motivated to maintain physical activity is a challenge for many at the best of times, now imagine trying to motivate yourself whilst fasting from dusk till dawn (and yes, no water either). This act of fasting is called ‘Ramadan’. Ramadan is a special time for Muslims worldwide, as it represents when the holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him). It involves followers of the Islamic faith to fast from dusk till dawn without any food and drink for a month. It is a time of year where we observe our character, practice self-discipline, sacrifice and patience, connect spiritually and a time to break bad habits and recondition the mind, body and soul.

During this holy month, by abstaining from food and drink during the day, Muslims are reminded of those less fortunate and are encouraged to engage in acts of generosity and compulsory charity. Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, however it is not obligatory for all Muslims to observe Ramadan, such as the elderly, those who are clinically vulnerable and require medication and children under the age of puberty (that can range from 10 to 14 years of age).

A typical day in Ramadan would involve waking up before sunrise for a pre- dawn meal called ‘Suhoor’, back to sleep (if you able or have time), acts of worship throughout the day then open your fast with a meal at dusk called ‘Iftar’ followed by late night prayers…..and repeat for the next 30 days! Don’t forget in between that we have our normal day to day routine, work, kids, shop, cook, chores, exercise and whatever else life throws at you.

“Lack of sleep is the biggest struggle! – It’s like being a new mum again, the broken sleep and feeling like a zombie. The first few days are the hardest, but once I’ve got the hang of the change of routine I somehow adapt mentally and the physical mechanism just follows. Being a mum of 3 keeps me active, but there is nothing like a HiiT class for me. With low energy levels I prefer to slow down on my physical activity classes during Ramadan and focus more on walking and once or twice a week low intensity aerobic classes. I feel the effects of fasting more if I am inactive, so I keep busy and moving. My advice would be; adjust your physical activity routine, do what you can – but rest when needed, it’s a time to test your self-disciple”. Shaba Haque| Leap| Marketing & Communication Consultant

“Ramadan is a time of the year that I thoroughly enjoy and love – minus the lack of sleep as my colleague Shaba has mentioned! The holy month provides me an opportunity to become a better person all-round, physically, mentally and spiritually. It’s a time of year where I feel true appreciation for things in life that I often take for granted. I like to go about my life as normal during Ramadan. It’s important to keep busy as well as active – anything to keep my mind off food! I am a big fan of my cardio whether it being going for a run or jumping on my bike. Throughout the month, I like to continue being physically active with some light cardio. I do this for no longer than 30 mins around an hour before I break my fast at iftar- believe it or not I feel better for it, and it provides me with a sense of self accomplishment not forgetting that this justifies the copious samosas when I break my fast!” – Muhsin Raquib|Leap|Project Officer

 

Tips for coaches, instructors, clubs and delivery partners

We encourage all our partners, coaches and instructors to be mindful of this holy month and support those observing Ramadan. Here are some general tips and guidance:

  • The lack of food, water and sleep would have an impact on energy and focus levels – be mindful of this and provide support where needed
  • Be aware of who is observing Ramadan and whether it is impacting on them. The needs and effects of participants will vary, not everyone feels the same.
  • Adjust the level of intensity if needed
  • Some participants may not feel or want to partake in training or classes whilst fasting. They may prefer to be sedentary during this month – so as not to overexert themselves. Talk and see if any support can be provided.
  • Be aware of the timings of sunset and when it is time to open fast (Iftar time). Try to ensure that training hours do not coincide with these times
  • Be mindful of intensity in training and always ask those observing Ramadan
  • If there is no avoiding of the opening of the fast/sunset time, then ensure you allow a break and partake in Iftar with the player(s)
  • If possible make exception to any participants who are unable to continue to train, if they are physically unable
  • After Iftar, the body needs to rest and there are prayers. Don’t be surprised if some participants don’t stay for after match training
  • Be aware that at the end of the Ramadan month, there is a celebration called ‘Eid al-Fitr, those celebrating may not be able to attend training/classes. Be mindful when setting dates. This year Eid al-Fitr is likely to be on Wednesday 12 May, but this depends on the moon sighting

Ramadan Mubarak!

Do you have a story to share? Or would like further support? You can contact us on info@leapwithus.org.uk