Why Physical Activity Is Better Than Rest during Fasting (Archived)

Why Physical Activity Is Better Than Rest during Fasting (1)


Many fasting individuals believe that rest and sleep while fasting is beneficial and saves their energy and protects their health, which is contrary to the scientific facts which state that physical activity while fasting in healthy people has benefits that cannot be achieved without it.


The benefits of physical activity while fasting are physiological, mental and spiritual.


Today we are going to write about the physiological benefits, and will complete the topic and write about the other two next week God willing.


The question that we would like to answer is: Why is movement during the time of fasting is better than lethargy on the physiological level?


To answer that question, we start with clarifying some of the physiological benefits of fasting:

The Islamic fasting helps the body get rid of toxins as well as moving and burning stored fat, in addition to activating some functions that might be inactive all year long, and resting some organs that work all year long without stopping such as the digestive system (the stomach and intestines).


Then we answer the question: Is movement or rest more helpful in achieving these goals?

The muscle movement following food absorption (fasting) leads to the oxidization of certain kinds of amino acids to use the energy which resulted from the oxidization process. After the muscles use that energy, Alanine acid starts forming – an essential amino acid used in producing new glucose in the liver.

Therefore, the process of producing new glucose increases with muscle movement.


As the digestive system uses the glucose coming from the liver to obtain energy, the body resorts to stored fat and oxidizes the amino acids, which leads to burning fat in the fat tissue, and that means movement while fasting is a positive and vital factor that increases the capability and activity of the muscles and the liver, and gets rid of fat and toxins in the body in a process called “catabolism”, without which the body cannot get rid fat and toxins in the body while fasting.


The muscle movement also decreases the production of protein in the liver and muscles “anabolism”, which saves a great deal of energy the body would have used in producing protein if the fasting person spent his day sleeping or inactive, and a fasting person needs that energy while fasting.


In general, physical activity while fasting acts as an activator of catabolism during the day, using up the stored energy and cleaning the organs from toxins that are deposited in the fat tissue.


Sleeping and inactivity during the day hinder these benefits and send the wrong signals to the body, which leads to using up the body’s energy in producing protein instead of keeping it in an accessible form that is available to the fasting person to use during his fasting while leaving stored fat and toxins untouched.


In addition to all that, sleeping during the day and staying up all night in Ramadan lead to the disturbance of the biological clock in the body, as certain hormones that stimulate the organs to be active are in their highest levels during the morning and reach their lowest levels during the night such as Cortisone. There are other hormones that help the body relax and sleep and tell the body that it is time for resting and sleeping. Those hormones reach their highest levels in the body during night time, such as Melatonin. By turning day into night and night into day, these hormones become disturbed and out of order and the body is disturbed in general.


For all that, the prophet (PBUH) and his companions – may God be pleased with them all – did not differentiate between Ramadan and other months, they even engaged in many battles and conquers while fasting and did a great job.


A faithful fasting person needs to get rid of the fear of productive work and constructive movement during fasting, and use this ritual which God honored by saying “Every deed of the son of Adam is for him except fasting; it is for Me and I shall reward it”.



OKAZ Newspaper – Tuesday 8 Ramadan 1418 AH falling on 6 January 1998 AD


Why Physical Activity Is Better Than Rest during Fasting (2)


In the past episode, we talked about the importance of movement and activity during fasting, and explained the advantage of movement over rest on the physiological level, and how activity while fasting can activate catabolism during the day and burn the stored energy and cleanse the organs from stored toxins in the fat tissue. We also talked about how sleeping and lethargy during the day while fasting sends the wrong signals to the body and prevents the body from getting some of the benefits of fasting. Today we will talk about the mental benefits, which are huge and cannot be achieved without activity and work while fasting. These benefits include gaining power over one’s self which is inclined to evil and control over one’s desires, and practice breaking habits so that a Muslim becomes a master of his surroundings, not owned by the ordinary and not weakened by variables.


Fasting teaches patience in adversity, and that is why Ramadan was called the month of patience as it was mentioned in the Hadith “Fasting the month of patience and three days of every month take away the pains in the chest. Fasting is half of patience and half of faith.”


One of the fruits of patience is gaining piety “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.”


Al-Razi wrote in his paraphrasing of the verse “Fasting inherits piety for all it has of breaking desires and suppression of fancy, as it deters one from vanity and immorality, and trivializes the pleasures of life and its dominance, for fasting breaks the lusts of the stomach and the genitals. One who does it frequently finds those two pleasures idle and insignificant, and that becomes a deterrent against immorality and what is prohibited, and trivializes dominance in the world, and all that is a combination of the factors of piety.” A Muslim’s progress in the degrees of faith depends on his brain’s control over his body.


Those benefits cannot be achieved unless a fasting person practices his daily life with all it has to offer of tests, problems and obstacles, and deals with them in the spirit and morality of fasting. And here relies the benefit of practicing progression in the ethics of our daily living during the month of patience, hopefully we can reach the causes of piety for the rest of our year, and avoid deception, backstabbing, gossip and cursing as the prophet (PBUH) ordered us “Whoever does not leave off false speech and false conduct, God has no need of his leaving off food and drink.” He also said “Fasting is a protection, so if it was a fasting day for one of you, he may not have sexual relations and may not be noisy, and if he was verbally insulted by someone let him say “I am fasting.”


A Muslim who spends his day inactive and sleeping loses the chance to train his brain to tame the lusts of the body, and so many fasting people out there who get nothing from their fasting but hunger and thirst, as told by the truthful and trustworthy (PBUH).



OKAZ Newspaper – Tuesday 15 Ramadan 1418 AH falling on 13 January 1998 AD


Why Physical Activity Is Better Than Rest during Fasting (3)


We talked in the last two episodes about the importance of movement and activity during fasting and discussed the advantage of movement over rest on the physiological and mental levels. Today, we will talk about the spiritual side.


The question is: How can movement be better than rest to achieve the spiritual elevation for the one fasting?

There is no doubt that a fasting person who works hard during the day will feel the anguish of hunger and thirst more than one who is lethargic or sleeping, which makes him sense his own weakness and embody one form of deprivation to remind him of his need and servitude towards his Creator, which happens deliberately or as an answer to the calling of one’s nature (the nature of hunger and thirst) which God entrusted in him to remind him that he is a servant who is subject to the laws of the universe and the laws of creation, willingly or unwillingly.


As much as one senses his servitude towards his Creator, his soul can elevate in the runways of passersby.


Deprivation reminds a believer with the Creator’s grace over his creatures and teaches the nation about the real and practical equality between the poor and the rich in experiencing the taste of hunger and its bitterness.


This is an importance step in the emotional education, without which a Muslim’s character is incomplete.


Emotional education requires that a believer to practice the different aspects of worship, to be patient with the test of fortune as well as the test of deprivation, and pave the feelings and emotions coming from that experimenting.


A fasting person spending the whole day sleeping wastes the chance to experience such feelings and the spiritual elevation that accompanies that sort of experience.



OKAZ Newspaper – Tuesday 22 Ramadan 1418 AH falling on 20 January 1998 AD