Ramadan 2023: Fitness group in Riyadh encourages exercising during holy month


An all-women fitness group in Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh is taking lead this year in encouraging people to remain active during Ramadan through a program that offers members access to various activities.

Riyadh Women GettingFit (RWG) is attempting to keep people enthusiastic to exercise during Ramadan by offering a morning and evening schedule to those interested.

The group offers online morning stretch sessions to help set the body for the day in a moderate way while in the evenings, group walks are organized after Iftar on Sundays and Mondays. The group also offers tennis, football and basketball training sessions.

Reflecting on Ramadan as a time for family and togetherness, RWG during this period is not only accessible to RWG’s female members, but also to their families including their husbands and children.

“Our eating and sleeping routines do change during Ramadan unlike any other month, but it shouldn’t stop you from being active,” RWG founder Zuzana Kalous told Al Arabiya English. Kalous said that light to moderate intensity exercises are safe while fasting given their positive effects on one’s body.

“Do not stop exercising, the key is to be realistic with your fitness regime. In modifying and maintaining your fitness regime during Ramadan, your body will benefit in so many ways,” she said.

Some of these benefits include prevention of medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart diseases and maintenance of muscular strength and endurance. Exercising is also a great way to reduce fatigue, allowing those fasting to function better during the day.

Kalous, who has been involved in the fitness and sporting community in the Kingdom, said she has noticed an increased drive among people to exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle during Ramadan.

This is not only due to a shift in people’s approach and mind set toward fitness in the holy month, but also to the state’s increased efforts.

“In 2015 the General Sports Authority conducted their first National Sports Survey… that revealed that only 13 percent of citizens aged over 15 years exercised at least once a week,” she said.

In 2018, another survey was carried out, showing a 10 percent increase up to 23 percent, Kalous added.

The government, she said, is driving this change and encouraging more fitness campaigns during this period and beyond.

“There is such a drive in Saudi Arabia from the government encouraging citizens to embrace sports and exercise during the holy month of Ramadan.”

Groups like RWG are also contributing to this change especially by providing a safe and encouraging space for women where different forms of exercising is accessible to them. Kalous, who has been based in Riyadh since 2015, said she saw the urge to create RWG to help break any barriers or hesitation among some women.

“We uniquely focus on community, openly welcoming women of all ages, fitness levels and ethnicities,” she said. “The reality is women came in all shapes and sizes with varying abilities. You don’t need to be a professional athlete. Exercise is for everyone.”

Exercising tips

Kalous, who herself has a background in sports, also offered those fasting some tips for a safe and healthy exercising during Ramadan:

It’s not recommended to start exercising during Ramadan if a person doesn’t exercise regularly.
When exercising for 30 minutes or more, train in a cool environment or 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 work out during Ramadan is either before Iftar or two to three hours after Iftar.
Avoid working out immediately after breaking your fast.
If you experience any dizziness, nausea or difficulty breathing during your workout, stop immediately.
Drink plenty of water between Iftar and Suhoor to avoid dehydration during fasting.

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