Ramadan is a holy month celebrated by Muslims around the world. It is a month where people are encouraged to take the time to reflect and do good while fasting from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan is about improving yourself in every aspect of your everyday life, and your health is an integral part of that. It is important to look after yourself and stay healthy. If you’re into fitness or have just embarked on your fitness journey, you might find it intimating to balance your workout routine. Can you exercise during Ramadan? Yes; however, should you? That’s up to you! It’s important to look after yourself and stay healthy.

While there is no one-size fits all approach when it comes to working out during Ramadan, the most important thing is that you listen to your body. We’ve enlisted the help of Ahmed El Sayed, a fashion designer by education, and a social media content creator and creative director by passion, who likes to represent the ‘Modern Arab Man’ aesthetic throughout his work, and for all things fitness.

“Disciplined and not shy”

El Sayed, who often details his workout routines to his 270,000 followers on Instagram, started his fitness journey from a young age. “My father used to wake up every day at sunrise and squeeze in an hour of working out before he headed to his work in the military. As I got older (around my teenage years) I would wake up with him and join his workouts at home,” he explains.

Ramadan can pose a challenge to your daily exercise routines, and some may find themselves unmotivated. El Sayed prefers to work out before Iftar as it enables him “to be disciplined and not shy away from putting my body through such activity before breaking my fast. The rewarding feeling I get is great, so it keeps me feeling motivated throughout the month.” It also allows him to feel less fatigued after indulging in his first meal of the day.

Everyone’s body needs food and drink to support and energize a workout. Whether you’re in it to build strength, improve endurance or lose weight, Elsayed finds that having dinner at a more regular hour than suhoor, and ensuring that he gets a minimum of eight to nine hours of sleep, works best for his body. “It allows me to better digest the food and stops my body from being fatigued while fasting,” he explains. On days where he is keen to push himself in the gym, he breaks his fast with a protein smoothie for breakfast and continues his workout, followed by a regular dinner meal.

Constantly on the move

While you might come across various lists of do’s and don’ts as you search the web for the best way to workout in Ramadan, the process is all about trial and error. Elsayed adds, “listen to your body, know when to stop and don’t over work yourself in the gym.” He recommends setting realistic goals and attempting to work towards them. “Keep yourself active just before and after Iftar. It doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym, it could just be going for a walk or taking up a sport. Basically, allowing your body to constantly be on the move.” While your goals may change as the holy month progresses, Elsayed points to the fact that you should not compare your progress to anyone else’s as we are all built differently.

The exact type of exercise you choose to undertake during Ramadan will depend on your needs, and how you feel while fasting. “There are days when I have the energy to go for a full workout in the gym before Iftar and other days where running errands before I break my fast are my source of cardio. Be kind to your body, don’t push yourself too much, and always keep yourself hydrated.”