Posted on May 15, 2018

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.

Fasting, Sports and Medicine, a Prescription for Chronic Diseases

Dr. Ahmed Al-Hamdani, Medical Physician, 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 our psychological, mental and spiritual health. However, some might focus on its bodily effects only, while the EIM program focuses on the importance of exercise as a key element to strengthen muscles, and alleviate chronic diseases and their associated complications.

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Patients are required to seek medical advice before fasting


Al-Hamdani recommends 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].

General advice for patients with chronic diseases during exercise

Al-Hamdani explained that exercising positively changes our 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 its best to practice 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-Hammadni also noted the importance of maintaining regular sleep cycles between 6 to 8 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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From a medical perspective, patients with diabetes should not continue fasting if they develop certain symptoms that indicate they are suffering from low or high blood glucose such as dizziness, severe hunger, excessive sweating or urinating. If the person determines that their level of glucose is low, less than 70 mg / dl, they should drink a cup of fresh juice or eat sweets to regulate it; while high levels, above 300 mg / dl should be regulated by taking necessary medications. In both cases, it’s recommended to visit the nearest emergency centre to do tests and receive treatment.

During Ramadan, Aspetar will launch awareness campaigns on nutrition, research, exercise, dentistry and other disciplines where experts will provide a range of tips for people who are fasting, promote healthy lifestyle and encourage prevention.