According to Dr Farhana Bin Lootah, an internal medical consultant at Mubadala Health’s Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), it is important to incorporate regular exercise into your routine, even while fasting over Ramadan. She explains that exercise is a key contributor to achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and can significantly help reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
"As simple as it may sound, a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day, five times a week, greatly reduces the chance of developing diabetes. It is especially effective as part of a three-point plan to reduce risk, alongside a balanced diet and maintaining a normal body weight. For this reason, we urge people with diabetes to continue with moderate exercise during Ramadan, adjusting your routine as necessary for mealtimes, temperatures and COVID-19 precautions.
Dr Farhana says the benefits of regular exercise include:
- Better blood glucose control
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Weight management
- Improvement of body composition - less fat, increased lean muscle mass
- Improvement of blood lipid values - lower ‘bad’ cholesterol, increased ‘good’ cholesterol
- Lowered blood pressure
- Decreased risk of heart disease
- Stronger muscles and bones
She suggests that people take some moderate exercise just before they break their fast at iftar, and again just before going to bed, as well as right before suhoor. "A brisk, short walk of around 10 minutes or more would be ideal," she says.
She adds that as the weather is warming up, outdoor exercise might not always be the best option, so people should try to incorporate indoor activities such as climbing the stairs, or a home workout suitable to their fitness level.
"While strenuous exercise should be avoided, you can exercise more vigorously from about two hours after iftar, as you will have more energy then and your body will be hydrated. It is important that you test your blood sugar levels before and after exercise, and to have a light snack such as a piece of fruit before exercise," Dr Farhana says.