An all-female fitness group in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is taking the initiative this year to encourage people to stay active during Ramadan with a program that offers members access to various activities.
Riyadh Women GettingFit (RWG) tries to keep people excited about exercising during Ramadan by offering a morning and evening schedule for those interested.
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The group offers morning stretching sessions online to help prepare the body for the day in a moderate way while in the evening there are group walks after iftar on Sundays and Mondays. The group also offers tennis, football and basketball courses.
Reflecting on Ramadan as a time for family and togetherness, RWG during this time is not only accessible to female members of RWG, but also to their families, including their husbands and children.
“Our eating and sleeping habits change during Ramadan like no other month, but that shouldn’t stop you from being active,” RWG founder Zuzana Kalous told Al Arabiya English. Kalous said light to moderate intensity exercise is safe while fasting given its positive effects on the body.
“Don’t stop exercising, the key is to be realistic with your fitness regimen. By modifying and maintaining your fitness routine during Ramadan, your body will benefit in many ways “, she said.
Some of these benefits include preventing medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease and maintaining muscle strength and endurance. Exercise is also a great way to reduce fatigue, allowing those who fast to function better during the day.
Kalous, who has been involved in the fitness and sports community in the Kingdom, said she noticed an increase in people’s willingness to exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle during Ramadan.
This is not only due to a change in people’s approach and mindset towards physical fitness during the holy month, but also due to the increased efforts of the state.
“In 2015, the General Sports Authority conducted its first national sports survey…which revealed that only 13% of citizens over the age of 15 exercised at least once a week,” she said.
In 2018, another survey was carried out, showing an increase from 10% up to 23%, Kalous added.
The government, she said, is driving this change and encouraging more fitness campaigns during this time and beyond.
“There is such a will in Saudi Arabia from the government to encourage citizens to play sports and exercise during the holy month of Ramadan.”
Groups like RWG are also contributing to this change, especially by providing a safe and supportive space for women where different forms of exercise are accessible to them. Kalous, who has been based in Riyadh since 2015, said she saw the need to create RWG to help break down barriers or hesitations among some women.
“We are purely community focused, openly welcoming women of all ages, fitness levels and ethnicities,” she said. “The reality is that the women came in all shapes and sizes with varying abilities. You don’t have to be a professional athlete. Exercise is for everyone.
Kalous, who is athletically trained herself, also offered those fasting some tips for safe and healthy exercise during Ramadan:
- It is not recommended to start exercising during Ramadan if a person does not exercise regularly.
- When exercising for 30 minutes or more, exercise in a cool environment or an air-conditioned location.
- Avoid aggressive high-intensity workouts during the day, especially in hot weather. This will lead to dehydration and associated health issues.
- The best time to train during Ramadan is either before Iftar or two to three hours after Iftar.
- Avoid working out immediately after breaking your fast.
- If you feel dizzy, nauseous, or have difficulty breathing during your workout, stop immediately.
- Drink plenty of water between Iftar and Suhoor to avoid dehydration while fasting.
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