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Sport and exercise during Ramadan

Advice from the Muslim Sports Foundation

It’s Ramadan – the Holy Month in the Islamic calendar! During this month, Muslims observe a period of fasting where they refrain from food and drink between the break of dawn and sunset.

Nutrition and hydration are important parts to participating in physical activity which is why fasting can have an impact. This doesn’t mean that the Muslim community stop taking part in sport and exercise throughout Ramadan. 

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, observed by the Muslim community around the world as a period of fasting, spiritual reflection, charity and prayer. It is a time of heightened religious devotion and introspection.

When does Ramadan take place?

This changes every year depending on the sighting of the new crescent moon. This year, Ramadan is from March 23rd until the weekend of April 21st. 

The end of Ramadan is marked by a festival called Eid al-Fitr, which is a time for prayer, celebration, family union and feast.

Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?

The Muslim community believes that fasting during Ramadan helps them to increase in God consciousness and compassion for those in need.

Here is the advice of the Muslim Sports Foundation about delivering and taking part in sport and exercise during Ramadan.

How to adapt sport and exercise during Ramadan?

To ensure the Muslim community can continue to enjoy the benefits of sport and exercise during Ramadan, it is important to be aware of how to adjust sport and training.

  • Be sensitive and understanding - Coaches and teammates should be sensitive to the cultural and religious practices of participants during Ramadan. Wishing them “Ramadan Mubarak,” which means “Blessed Ramadan,” would mean a lot. It would also be kind to make adjustments for prayer times and provide a private space for participants to pray. This should be considered throughout the year, not just for Ramadan.
  • Modify intensity and duration - During Ramadan, the intensity and duration of physical activity should be adjusted. Coaches may need to modify their training sessions for their participants. This can help conserve energy and avoid dehydration.
  • Adjust the time of exercise - Where possible, training should take place during non-fasting hours to help maintain energy levels. If training is done during fasting hours, it should be lighter and less intense. It’s better these take place in the early morning after replenishing or late evening before refuelling.
  • Monitor health and wellbeing - During Ramadan, athletes may be more susceptible to dehydration, fatigue, and other health issues. Coaches and trainers should monitor the health and well-being of fasting athletes closely and ensure that they are not overexerting themselves.

Wales Golf and Cricket Wales are some of the organisations across Wales offering midnight sessions during Ramadan. At the Sport Wales National Centre, Foundation 4 Sports will be delivering basketball and football alongside table tennis and squash.

A batsman receives a bowl while a wicketkeeper waits behind the stumps.
Cricket Wales' midnight sessions last year

Taking part in sport and exercise during Ramadan

It can be challenging to maintain a regular routine of physical activity to stay healthy during Ramadan. Here are some things to consider for those observing the fast during the Holy Month. 

  • Take breaks and rest – Whether it’s training alone or competing as part of a team, there should be more breaks to rest and recover when exercising during the fast.
  • Get sufficient rest - It is essential to schedule adequate rest time during the fasting period to allow the body to recover. Due to late night prayers and fatigue, a power nap during afternoons can be very beneficial.
  • Eat healthy - When breaking the fast at sunset, there should be a focus on eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to keep your body fuelled for longer.
  • Stay hydrated - Drink enough water and consume sufficient electrolytes after sunset to stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • Seek medical advice – If a participant suffers with any medical condition, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before fasting to train during Ramadan.

Diolch to the Muslim Sports Foundation for offering this advice and information for community clubs and for sport participants in Wales during Ramadan.

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