Aspetar has suggested that Ramadan offers an ideal opportunity to jump start a healthy lifestyle by following a low-calorie diet and exercising, which help tackle some serious long-term complications for patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes and high-blood pressure.
Recent research has shown that exercise helps prevent several chronic diseases by controlling weight, thus preventing obesity-related risks. And that’s just one benefit of exercising regularly. It also decreases the chances of developing diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels; protects from cardiac diseases; reduces the risk of breast and intestinal cancer, osteoporosis, fractures and dementia; and can substantially reduce stress and depression.
Dr Ahmed al-Hamdani, medical physician, Exercise is Medicine (EIM) Department at Aspetar, prescribes a combination of fasting, exercising and medicine during Ramadan that helps prevent from chronic diseases and associated complications; provided that patients consult with their physician, dietitian or ask exercise specialists available at Aspetar’s EIM clinic.
Al-Hamdani says that fasting can improve psychological, mental and spiritual health. However, some might focus on its bodily effects only, while the EIM programme focuses on the importance of exercise as a key element to strengthen muscles, and alleviate chronic diseases and their associated complications.
Al-Hamdani recommended that patients with chronic diseases should see a doctor to discuss their medical condition before fasting. For example, if patients with diabetes decided to fast without prior consultation, this might lead to the discharge of some hormones that burn fats and increase the levels of blood glucose. To alleviate the negative effects, the patient would be required to change the type and doses of medications, and regulate them between breakfast and Suhoor [pre-dawn meal].
Al-Hamdani explained that exercising positively changes psychological and physical health and improves the quality of the life of patients with chronic diseases, which helps them lead a normal life. He noted that it is best to practise low to medium training during Ramadan, such as walking, or cycling and avoid exercising during the day, as it would dehydrate the body and decrease blood pressure.
Al-Hamdani also noted the importance of maintaining regular sleep cycles between six to eight hours a day, and refraining from exercising in hot weather, as this may cause a sudden decrease in glucose levels in the blood. It is also recommended to drink plenty of water between breakfast and Suhoor.
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