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Swimming has pool of health benefits, even while fasting — experts

By Batool Ghaith - Apr 11,2022 - Last updated at Apr 11,2022

Representative image (Photo courtesy of Quackenbush)

AMMAN — Swimming while fasting during the holy month of Ramadan can help lose excess body fat while keeping the body energised, according to experts.

Swimming is an important exercise that has countless benefits, with many people swimming daily for a variety of purposes. Not only does it help you stay fit, it can also be beneficial for recovery from many health conditions, experts told The Jordan Times.

Swimming coach Abdulrahman Jadallah said the best time for people in good shape to swim during Ramadan is before iftar (the fast-breaking meal at sunset). He recommended that the elderly, or those with diabetes, high blood pressure or heart conditions, should swim at least two hours after iftar.

“Swimming during the fast period is ideal for young people, especially if the person is trying to lose weight as it helps burn fat,” Jadallah told The Jordan Times on Monday over the phone.

Jadallah noted that it is best not to exceed 45 minutes to an hour maximum of swimming while fasting, in order not to exhaust the body, as the body is already deficient in fluids and energy.

“Swimming an hour before iftar is the best time to practise, making sure to warm up correctly and also stretch after the swim,” he added.

Jadallah emphasised the importance of refuelling the body with all the nutrients in order to stay strong, energetic, and avoid losing muscle, as well as making sure to drink at least three litres of water between iftar and suhoor (pre-dawn meal).

Hamza Helmi, also a swimming coach, indicated that swimming while fasting can make a person feel more energetic and re-generates the metabolism without over exerting the body, yet offering a significant aerobic benefit.

Helmi told The Jordan Times that swimming while fasting has a lower potential for muscular growth, but has a huge role in burning fat. 

According to Helmi, the body is hydrated by the temperature of the water in the pool, therefore, the amount of sweat and the body’s loss of fluids is less, as it maintains body temperature.

“It is better to swim in closed places while fasting and not to expose oneself to the sun, so it does not lead to negative results,” he said. He recommended to not swim for over half an hour while fasting. 

According to physiotherapist Sally Juma’a, swimming has great benefits for the muscles as well as the whole body.

“It is important to keep moving during Ramadan, as many people, especially older people, think that they should not do anything because they are fasting, which is wrong,” she told The Jordan Times on Monday.

Juma’a highlighted the benefits of swimming for elderly people and anyone who suffers from body aches or muscle spasms and many other conditions, as swimming requires less effort than other forms of exercise while still having great impact and creating results for the body.

“Whether before or after iftar, it is better to move the body one way or another. I recommend swimming for most of my patients as it provides a full body workout, as nearly all of the muscles are used during swimming, which helps to build muscle strength, endurance and gives a relaxing element as well,” Juma’a added.

Sanad Al Rifai, a Jordanian in his 30s, told The Jordan Times that he always starts his day with an early swim. 

“I am used to swimming on an empty stomach as it is the first thing I do in my day usually, it makes me feel refreshed and energised to start my day, even during winter,” he said.

Rifai indicated that he usually swims for an hour early in the morning, but during Ramadan he goes for his daily swim right after work, two hours before iftar. 

“During Ramadan, I swim for 30 to 40 minutes only, since I am fasting. It gives me enough energy to continue the day and energises my body until my iftar meal,” he said.

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