Islam encourages Muslims, after fulfilling their obligatory duties, to use their spare time in beneficial pursuits which help one draw closer to Allah (glorified and exalted be He) – from the moment they wake up until it’s time to sleep. This leaves a Muslim with no time to waste in activities that drain his energy or squander it in inappropriate ways. One of Islam’s highly recommended leisure activities is sport.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing good.” [Sahih Bukhari]
What can you gain from engaging in sports?
- It’s fun! : It gives you something to do and a group to belong to, a group of friends that have the same goals and interests.
- Develops self-esteem: Research has found that those who play sports are more likely to have a positive body image and higher self-esteem, as they are less likely to be overweight.
- Prevents developing destructive habits: Those involved in sports are less likely to take drugs or smoke because they realize the impact that these destructive activities can have upon their performance.
- Promotes mental health: Physical activity is a good way to relieve stress, reduce depression and sleep well at night.
- Helps develop discipline: Sports make you learn to set goals and then work to achieve those goals. You learn that by working hard that you can accomplish the things that you want to.
- Teaches valuable life lessons: Playing sports teaches you that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. You learn to accept both situations. It also helps you to learn to deal with disappointment and move on.
- Increases probability of academic success: Statistics show that kids involved in sports while in high school are more likely to experience academic success and graduate from high school.
- Helps develop teamwork and leadership skills: You learn while playing sports that you have to work together as a team to win the game!
- Develops motor skills, strategic thinking and even math skills: Students develop strategic thinking as they figure out the best way to get around a player or score a goal. They improve their math skills while calculating scores and stats.
- Promotes health and quality of life: Regular exercise through sports increases the quality of life by preventing heart disease through maintaining low cholesterol and healthy weight.
- Promotes immunity and bone health: Playing sport expedites the healing of wounds, and helps prevent bones’ frangibility.
- Improves stamina and mental activity: Sports utilize more oxygen which stimulates the brain and helps a person do more without feeling exhausted.
How can you remain consistent in doing sports?
- Start small: Maybe just do ten push-ups or 2 laps of swimming. It’s easy, and usually, it’s just enough to get your heart rate going a little bit, and make you feel like a little more exercise wouldn’t be so bad.
- Do a 5-minute full body workout: Kill the “I don’t have time” excuse by developing a routine that engages every muscle in your body in just a few minutes. Engage in sports like squash or swimming that are fun as well as use all of your body’s muscles at the same time.
- Give yourself rewards: For example, when it’s the first time to go to the gym or join a sports class, you’ll have a really hard time motivating yourself to get to it. So set a goal that if you go to it today, then you’ll have your favorite healthy snack.
- Overcome procrastination through self-talk: You probably tell yourself something like “I should exercise right now. If I don’t work out, I’m never going to get fit.” This statement has many hidden obstacles. Telling yourself to “do” something makes it seem like work, or an obligation. That’s no fun. You’re also thinking about what will happen if you don’t exercise – in other words, you’re threatening yourself with punishment (the image of being unfit). You’re flooding your mind with negativity. Instead, remember that exercise is a choice, and it’s about whether you want to, or not! So, instead of thinking about how you’ll look if you don’t work out, think about how great you’d look if you did!
- Sign up for a charity walk or run that will encourage you to train: Once you have a set date to work towards, you’ll have a goal in mind while you’re working out. The feeling of accomplishment after you’re done will encourage you to sign up for another or to just continue being fit.
- Substitute sports for sedentary, unproductive activities: For instance, play a sport with friends instead of following up your favorite TV show with one you don’t really like.
- Hypnotize yourself using the “Best Me Technique”: Hypnosis is a state of intense concentration, when your mind is extremely receptive. The “Best Me Technique” is a form of hyperempiria, or suggestion-enhanced experience, which encourages you to pre-experience the accomplishment of a goal.
- “Get back on the horse”: Haven’t exercised for a week? A month? A year? A decade? Who cares? Don’t punish yourself. Don’t think about how hard it is to get back. Live in the moment. Do you want to get in shape? Then work out. Eventually, you’ll gain momentum, and you can fine-tune your routine. Momentum will come naturally from feeling good about you and wanting to take better care of yourself.
Establish in your brain that being physically active is a choice, and a fun choice at that!
About the Author:
Ahmad El-Shaf’ei studied Islamic Studies in English at Al-Azhar University, and has also studied at other institutions in Cairo, Egypt. He enjoys writing tips that uncover the simplicity and practicality of Islam and how it is the key to success in our modern life. He hopes this Ummah can return to being the leader it once was.