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Football and Fasting - Everything you need to know for Ramadan 5-a-side

You may be wondering if it’s a good idea to continue with your current fitness regime – or whether it’s a good idea to exercise at all – while you’re fasting during Ramadan.

We understand….

The easy option is to simply kick-back and relax for a month and hide under the assumption that it’s the best thing to do.

“It’s probably not a good idea to perform physical activities when my body is so low on fuel” you tell yourself, as you tuck into your fourth slice of cake after breaking the fast.

“Heck, is it even safe? I could be doing myself some serious long-term damage. I don’t want to risk that!” is another excuse we’re able to decipher through mouthfuls of maqluba.

And yes:

While exercising and fasting can be detrimental if you don’t follow the correct procedures, fear not, because we’re on hand to help you navigate the pitfalls of continuing your exercise routine this Ramadan, so all of your hard work won’t be undone in this month of high binges and low energy.

Is it safe?

Firstly, let’s address the serious and important part of your personal well-being and whether or not it’s actually safe to train while observing the rules during Ramadan of abstaining from all food and drink during the hours that the sun is up (i.e. sunrise to sunset).

Well:

According to Dr Javaid Shah, who is a Physician Specialist based in Dubai:

“When we exercise during fasting, it essentially forces our body to shed fat, as our body's fat burning processes are controlled by sympathetic nervous system, which in turn is activated by exercise and lack of food”

In addition to this, training while in a fasted state can promote healthy development of the brain, muscle fibres and neuro-motors.

So, not only does it seem that training while fasting is safe, it’s actually beneficial to us on a long-term scale.

Fasted cardio exercise has actually become an ever-increasingly popular approach to healthy fat loss, so if that’s what you’re hoping to achieve through working out, then Ramadan presents an opportunity for you to take advantage of training in a fasted state to increase your weight-loss efforts.

In fact, there’s a whole theory around the benefits of fasted training that are not limited merely to fat-loss, as studies also show that performance and output can be improved.

So, you may want to consider adopting the approach on a long-term basis, as many already have.

And,

What better time to give it a shot, when fasting is part of your everyday routine for the next few weeks, anyway?

Interested in taking advantage of your fasted state by working up a sweat? Find out about our pitch hire options by clicking here

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What’s the best type of exercise?

Studies, such as this one conducted by the Baylor College of Medicine, and this one from the University of New South Wales are among many, many others that have proven, quite conclusively, that HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts are vastly superior to the LISS (Low-Intensity Steady State) alternative with regards to greater fat loss and calories burned.

So, what is a LISS vs HIIT workout?

Well, in a nutshell, LISS would be something along the lines of a 30-minute jog, where the pace and incline of the run remains constant.

Whereas HIIT focuses more on shorter sessions of high-intensity cardio, like short burst of sprinting.

Hey, whaddyaknow, just like the type of exercise offered by, say, a 5-a-side football match.

What a coincidence!

Get the timing right

Now that we’ve covered the fact that’s it’s not only safe to train while fasted, but that you can also reap considerable benefits by doing so, we need to make sure we approach it properly.

Because…

Like any fitness regime or training program, doing it right can be incredibly good for you, but doing it wrong can be harmful.

The most important thing to factor in here, is timing.

Refuelling after you’ve had a workout, or exerted yourself in any way whatsoever, is vitally important.

So, if you’re looking to break the fast at Iftar – which can be as late as 21:00 or 21:30 in the UK – and the last food you ate or water you drank was before Suhoor – which could have been as early as 02:30 or 03:00 that morning – then scheduling your exercise for midday, for example, is not very advisable.

Your body will likely have already been subjected to a fasted state for quite some time, and the opportunity to refuel is still eight or nine hours away. It’s highly likely that you’ll feel depleted energy levels and even risk symptoms of dehydration by taking such actions.

As a safer and more beneficial course of action when participating in fasted training, scheduling some physical activity right before you break the fast is the best time to do so.

But be warned:

The risk of dehydration during such activities is still very high, so be sure that you schedule the activity correctly, and that you take it far easier than you would do normally.

Think along the lines of 50% - 60% of your usual work-rate. And stop immediately to seek medical attention if you begin to experience any of the symptoms of dehydration.

Keeping your workouts short is also advisable – no longer than 30 – 60 minutes and allow yourself to take longer breaks during rest periods.

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Walking football, anyone?

Some interesting ideas we’ve seen implemented to lower the intensity of workouts include:

• Replacing your run with a bike ride, so you can coast and let the wheels do some of the work

• Reducing your weightlifting volumes by half and turning your workouts into de-load sessions

• Playing Foot-Golf (you guessed it, an amalgamation of football and golf)

• Participating in a spot of Walking Football

Unsurprisingly, that last one is our favourite and is a whole lot of fun!

Simply eliminating the ability to run during a game, awarding a free-kick against all those who do, taxes your brain as you constantly battle with something that comes naturally, and forces you to think of creative ways to move the ball around the pitch and score.

Trust us, it’s incredibly enjoyable and remarkably rewarding to score a goal in such a game!

But if you don’t fancy taking your time, walking instead of running, or can’t face the prospect of only giving 50% of your efforts, don’t worry, because we’ve got you covered there, too…

Late-night pitch hire

At Powerleague, we understand the importance of sticking to your routine, and keeping your exercise activities going, no matter what temporary changes may be occurring in your daily routine.

And that’s precisely why we’ve extended the opening hours at selected clubs, so you can continue to hire a pitch and work up a sweat after you’ve broken the fast, and long into the late summer night.

So, now you know…

Hopefully, by now, you have a far better understanding of exercising while in a fasted state, and that it’s not only safe – when done correctly and the proper precautions are taken! – but that it can also promote a healthier lifestyle for your heart, lungs, brain, lean muscle tissue and central nervous system.

So, there’s really no reason for you to take a break from your 5-a-side footballing activities this Ramadan, when you have the options to take advantage of your fasted state and make even more progress towards your fitness goals or give our highly-recommended Walking Football suggestion a shot.

And if neither of those appeal, our late-night pitch hire means you really can continue exactly as normal during the month of Ramadan.

Eid Mubarak!