Nearly half — or 47% — of respondents in a survey conducted by the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) into health-related behaviour during Ramadan said their eating habits improved during the holy month.
The findings also revealed that 30% felt the quality of their diet remained unchanged during this period, WISH, an initiative of Qatar Foundation, said in a press statement.
While more than 50% of the respondents have reported that they maintain their weight during Ramadan, almost 30% have claimed they lose weight.
Meanwhile, the survey shows that 60% of the respondents find it difficult to maintain a good level of physical activity during Ramadan.
“The online survey of 500 Qatar residents conducted by Doha-based WISH researchers during the first three weeks of this year’s Ramadan revealed that 60% of people exercise less during the month than they usually would, with 40% of respondents reporting 30 minutes or less of physical activity per week,” WISH said.
Research shows that 28-30 consecutive days without being physically active reduces overall physical fitness and strength. “Thus, it is recommended that Muslims remain physically active during Ramadan to remain healthy,” the statement notes.
The survey results also indicated that 62% of respondents found it hard to maintain a regular sleep pattern. Irregular sleeping patterns are associated with many health problems.
Survey respondents said they experience headaches, extreme fatigue, dehydration, hypotension, fainting, digestive problems such as constipation, dizziness, shortness of breath and muscle pain during the month.
Also, more than three-quarters of the respondents said their eating habits either improved during Ramadan or remained the same as the rest of the year, and only one in five reported weight gain.
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is an opportunity to curb the habits that negatively affect health, while adopting new, healthier habits and lifestyles.
The holy month provides those observing with the ideal opportunity to lose excess weight through balanced and nutritional meals and exercise.
Other health benefits associated with fasting include the improvement in well-being for people with some chronic health conditions.
Maha El Akoum, WISH researcher, said: “In conducting our survey, we wanted to get an insight into how Ramadan affects people’s efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The results appear to show that there are some areas pertinent to staying healthy, such as maintaining healthy sleep patterns and exercising, which many find challenging, but they also appear to show that most people manage to avoid weight gain during the holy month.
“We intend to analyse the results further and plan to publish a detailed report on our findings in the coming months, which we hope will serve as a useful resource for policy-makers.”
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