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Jeddah – Yasmine El Tohamy – LONDON: A global Ramadan challenge is enabling people to get active while fundraising for humanitarian causes.
People from more than 20 countries — including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Pakistan, India, the US, Canada, Mexico, Kosovo and Austria — have signed up for the UK-based Ramadan Challenge 3.0.
It hopes to raise £100,000 ($139,419) for Penny Appeal’s Emergency Response Program, which helps deliver humanitarian aid to people suffering from natural disasters, conflict and extreme poverty.
“I’ve launched the Ramadan Challenge to encourage people to get active over the 30 days of Ramadan,” Haroon Mota, head of challenge events at Penny Appeal, told Arab News.
“They can do it in their own way with no rules — it’s your challenge, your way. It’s a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone a little bit and try something new.”
Exercise during Ramadan is uncommon as people tend to think that it is a time to conserve energy, but the body is capable of doing a lot even if one is not eating or drinking.
The challenge encourages people to use the numbers three and zero to get creative with the activity they set themselves, such as exercising 30 minutes per day or walking 3 km daily.
Last year, Mota, a professional athlete from the English city of Coventry, had planned to run the Berlin, London, Chicago and New York marathons, but they were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
So instead, he decided to run 10 km every day during Ramadan to raise money for charity. He documented his journey and raised £55,000.
“That was something different, and I discovered that I inspired a lot of people,” Mota said. “It also opened my horizons, because it showed me that there’s an appetite from Muslim communities to remain active in the month of Ramadan.”
Mota, 35, encourages people to live a healthier lifestyle through several campaigns, mostly via social media.
However much money is raised via the Ramadan Challenge 3.0, “it’s the cause that counts, and it’s people’s intentions for doing good and uniting toward goodness, which is the most important thing,” he said.
Mota is also a Sports Direct ambassador for the retail company’s campaign “Fast and Slow,” where experts, Muslim athletes, and influencers help communicate guidance around safe exercise and exercising slowly while fasting.
Haroon Mota’s top tips for exercising during Ramadan:
1. Be sensible and listen to your body — take it easy and slow down by reducing the intensity, volume or frequency of exercise.
2. Pay attention to hydration and nutrition when not fasting — take regular sips of water and try to drink at least 2-3 liters daily. Eat in moderation, prioritize carbohydrate intake for energy, and try to avoid unhealthy fried food.
3. Choose when to exercise — try to avoid warm weather, particularly in hot countries, as you might sweat and dehydrate more. Do what works for you depending on your tolerance and routine.
4. Prioritize rest and sleep — set a minimum time for sleep, and try to have afternoon naps for strength and general wellbeing.
5. Use this downtime to focus on neglected areas of exercise or fitness — whether that is flexibility, core strength, yoga or pilates, some of these exercises might be less strenuous.
6. Focus on mindfulness — Ramadan is important for self-reflection and spirituality, and you can do that while exercising slowly.
Mota added Ramadan is still not over, and said we should not worry about what we may have missed, but to make the most of the opportunities that we do have.
“I advise people not to stress and worry too much about losing fitness during the month,” said Mota. “It’s only 30 days, and people can work out a lot more once Ramadan is over, so maybe use this time to prepare your mind for what your goals might be after Ramadan.”
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