You can do cardio exercise during Ramadan, but what is the best time? Though I’m a certified personal trainer, I consulted with Amin Akhtar, a Muslim and NSCA-certified personal trainer, as well as former track athlete, based in NYC.
Akhtar explains, “The best time to perform cardio or any workout (during Ramadan) would be several hours after opening the fast.” However, this may not be possible, depending on the person’s schedule.
Thus, at what point, then, during the daylight hours of Ramadan, should cardio exercise be performed? “As long as intensity is kept well below the anaerobic threshold or no higher than 60 percent of VO2 max, and the subject is kept cool, light cardio can be performed, as the primary fuel for such training is fat.”
You’ll know when you’re approaching the anaerobic threshold when the cardio that you’re performing cannot be sustained for longer than a few minutes. The anaerobic threshold is that point at which the body shifts gears and starts using more glucose (sugars), rather than fat, for energy. When cardio is performed below the anaerobic threshold, the primary fuel source is fat, from stored body fat.
You’re in the aerobic zone when you can sustain the work output. Or, to put it another way, the cardio is duration-based, such as moderate to slow jogging, brisk walking, slower walking with an incline, cycling, or sustained workouts on the revolving staircase or elliptical machine. Non-strenuous aerobics classes also fall under this category.
Akhtar continues, “There is no way to minimize dehydration because if you’re not constantly drinking, you are losing fluids. According to Christine Walker (NYS certified holistic health coach AADP) it is imperative to drink 20 oz of water prior to exercise and an additional 24 oz for every pound lost during an exercise session. While working out it is important to drink 7 to 10 oz every 10-20 minutes to replenish fluids.”
Water intake for Muslim adults and teens is not allowed between sun-up and sundown during Ramadan. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t do any cardio exercise during the daylight hours of Ramadan. Akhtar explains, “So as long as activity is limited to 30 minutes and light intensity to 50 to 65 percent VO2 max, this may be acceptable during fasting hours without overly damaging the body.”
During Ramadan, to minimize the body’s need for fluids during daylight cardio, do your cardio indoors in a well-ventilated area, rather than outdoors in the sun, and wear loose, light clothing.