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How Muslim women juggle during Ramadan... and after

During Ramadan an individual is required to abstain from food, liquids and intimacy from dawn to sunset. The intention to fast must be made every day before dawn. The intention (or niyyah) may be made during the night before going to sleep or it can also be made at the time of suhoor (or pre-dawn meal).

It is acceptable not to fast during Ramadan if you are pregnant, have a physical or mental illness, are elderly, experiencing severe thirst or hunger, travelling, or your life is threatened should you not break the fast.

For many Muslim women across the world, Ramadan means not just a month of spirituality but also a lot of extra work - with constant juggling between day job, household, preparing the feasts, and observing the religious rituals which include fasting during the day and praying all through the night.

Many women agree that - despite the extra commitments, the running-around, and also the sleepless nights - Ramadan is a unique experience for them.

Anyone who fasted during the holy month will have experienced a significant shock to the system, as 11 months of dietary and sleeping habits were thrown into disarray. And now you need to readjust to normal routines again. No matter how careful you might have been to not overindulge at iftars and suhoors, or to maintain disciplined regimes with exercise and sleep, the transition that began with the Eid celebrations needs to be carefully managed in the coming days.

“Your metabolic process undergoes a change because of the difference in eating schedules and timings,” cautions Jasna Kizhakkeveetil, a dietician based at Aster Clinic in Dubai’s Al Qusais. “It is essential to ensure that you make a smooth transition from fasting into a regular dietary routine.”

The most important thing to focus on is a healthy diet that is balanced and includes all food groups – carbohydrates, fats and proteins, with more focus on vegetables, healthy grains and lean protein.”

A healthy exercise regime is also a crucial, says AlMheiri. “I know a lot of people who stop exercising during Ramadan, so I always recommend going back to an exercising schedule, and if you don’t have one, then start exercising. Every week we push starting a regime to the next week, and that next week will never come,” she says. “The sooner you start, the easier it is.”.

Around 90 per cent of her patients have gained some weight during Ramadan, she adds. “Around 4kg to 5kg, because of fasting for more than 13 hours and then sitting on a Ramadan table which has every single imaginable dish and desert.

As Orthodox and Christians have also gone through fasting and feasting for their Easter Celebrations, going back to a healthy routine and exercise is a safe recommendation for everyone. And as I always say, you cannot put your body, and mind, on hold for a period of time and think (or dream) it will start and function like a race car. Try to speed your racing car when the engine is cold :)

So one step at the time, intention is the key, and let's not put it off until later.

Here are some easy routines that each of use can do or choose, according to the time we have and yes, we all have at least 20 minutes times, every day of the week, to exercise.

For a full body work out, that can be done at home, with no equipment, spend your 20 minutes with Charlee Atkins.

If you have done some yoga and are familiar with Vinyasa Flow, I recommend this 15 minutes video from OM Green Wellness. It's a Quick 15 minutes full body yoga flow, this yoga practice will tone and sculpt your entire body. This yoga practice is for busy professionals that might not have one hour to practice yoga. If you are a beginner but love the idea of this flow, then start with Yoga by Candace. This is a 20 min yoga sequence that's best for people who are new to yoga. It's a flow sequence, but slowly than your traditional vinyasa.

If you don't want to, or cannot do, exercise, you still should do some stretching. This is a special video, gentle stretching exercises in this 5 Minute Full Body Stretching Routine for flexibility and increased mobility. Daily stretching is essential for women over 50 because as they age they can loose 50% of their flexibility, causing stiffness in the body and soreness in their joints.

If you still need to be convinced about the importance of exercise, beyond the feel good factor, here are some (very) good reasons to start a program and keep going:

  • Control blood pressure

  • Protect against diabetes

  • Ward off depression, anxiety, and insomnia

  • Enhance balance and strength (minimizing accidental falls)

  • Prevent osteoporosis

  • Decrease the risk of certain cancers

  • Maintain normal weight

  • Decrease cholesterol

  • Improve cognition

  • Lessen the pain of osteoarthritis

So one step at the time, the intention is the key, and let's not put it off until later. Here are some easy routines that each of use can do or choose, according to the time we have (or think we have). And yes, we all do have at least 20 minutes a day to practice some exercise.

Important notice: Older individuals, especially those who have led a very sedentary lifestyle, should check with their doctors before embarking on a vigorous exercise regimen. Additional testing (such as a stress test) may be necessary.

If you think you are "too old for that", have a look at Susan Good webpages and the special blog on "PERFECT MORNING ROUTINES FOR WOMEN OVER THE AGE OF 50!". No more excuses!

Let's get ready for a great summer, loving ourselves, and enjoying moments as they come, mindful and thankful.

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