Four “big rocks” for a better Ramadan

NYUAD Fitness and Wellness specialist Dalal Moustafa shares some health and wellness tips for an optimal Ramadan.

Dalal Mustafa, NYUAD Fitness Center

Ramadan is a special month for everyone. However, this year the holy month became “extra special” in light of all the health and safety measures being taken by governments around the world amid the spread of COVID-19.

As a Fitness and Wellness Specialist at NYUAD, I get questions around Ramadan every year, such as: What should we eat? When is the best time to exercise? How can I maintain my fitness levels throughout the month?… A never-ending list of questions!

My answer would always be: What are your priorities so that you can plan and balance your own “big rocks”? Imagine four rocks stacked on top of each other – only when they are in the right position will they stand tall together. Visualizing these rocks may help you balance your priorities.

The following are Four Big Rocks to consider for an optimal Ramadan:

1-  Sleep: Make sure you get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. In fact, for a better night sleep, try to shut down all your electronics 20 minutes before you go to bed and practice good sleeping rituals (Read a book, take a warm bath)

2- Nutrition: Moderation and variety are key, Ramadan is known for the indulging treats that come with it. You can still enjoy them, just make sure you take a 80/20 approach. 80 Percent of your food should be from wholesome ingredients leaving 20 percent to enjoy.

3- Exercise: This is a very essential part of health, so find what works for you best. Exercise type and timing are very individual but studies on fasting and exercise show that aerobic exercise pre-Iftar (brisk walking/ low intensity cycling or body weight workout) are beneficial as they help with fat oxidation and prompt fat loss. While moving high intensity workouts to post-Iftar due to the availability of energy sources from iftar and the ability to recover post a high intensity workout which reduces the probability of body and mental fatigue.

4- Socialize: Thanks to technology we now don’t have to give up our gatherings. We can stay safe at home yet share a meal with the family virtually. Plan sometime during your day to spend it with your loved ones that don’t live with you.

Once your big rocks are in place you can then fill in the gaps with other smaller tasks you need to get done. Make sure you get enough rest then supply it with good nutrition with your Iftar and Suhoor.

Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are equally essential. Make sure to have fruits, veggies and grains, and don’t forget your meats or meat substitutes (Legumes) if you are vegetarian or vegan and lastly get some nuts and healthy fats.

When sleep and nutrition are in place make sure you find time to move/workout before or after Iftar that is dependent on your schedule capability and most importantly energy.

Lastly, stay connected, remember to spend some time – virtually – with your family and friends while at home to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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