bodily or mental exertion, especially for the sake of training or improvement of health: Walking is a great exercise.
Exercise, without it we are not as healthy as we could be. Without it we are not as productive as we could be. Without it we are not exploiting our mind and body to their fullest potential. Without it we are not fulfilling our religion to its fullest. Without it we are not the Muslims we could be.
Ibn ‘Abbas narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: “Two favors that many of the people squander are health and free time.” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi]
Although some of us may find that exercising doesn’t come easy, we at Muslim Fitness feel that it’s a key element in being a well-rounded Muslim. Being physically active should be cultivated in every Muslim from a young age. Its benefits are endless and enduring. The benefits of play allow the young to expend their excess energies which in turn will aid them in focusing on the cognitive functions needed for academic and Islamic studies. The benefits of play allow more mature individuals to stay young, vivacious and stress free, in turn allowing them to perform their manifold daily responsibilities such as work, family, Islamic duties and everything in between.
Here at Muslim Fitness we strive every single day towards living a well balanced life. That means that we work hard at our careers, we work hard at parenthood, we work hard at being better Muslims and we definitely play hard. What do we mean by “play hard”? We mean play or engage in physical activities such as ice skating, sledding, walking, biking, jogging, tennis, basketball, squash, aerobics, lifting weights, climbing stairs, chasing the kids, throwing a Frisbee, pitching a baseball, softball, in line skating – anything that engages the body to move and stretch and increase heart rate.
Let’s admit that theoretically, most of us know and believe that exercise is beneficial for us, whether we are young, old or anywhere in between. So why are most of us not engaging in some kind of “play” every day?
Some world cultures imply that exercise is not for women. Women are raised to shun any form of “play”. They are taught that “play” is masculine and that any woman participating in play will become masculine and forward in her ways. In some cultures women are made busy with the household and family responsibilities and are not allowed the time to engage in “play”. If they find time for “play” then they are looked upon as irresponsible and child like.
It was narrated that ‘Aishah said: “The Prophet raced with me and I beat him.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
Brothers and sisters, as long as we are not engaging in anything unlawful, trespassing the limits set by the Shariah or letting ourselves get carried away and forgetting about our truest reason for being, we can safely bury those stigmas and look ahead toward a healthy future for ourselves and our families!
Here’s how to help kick start your new active lifestyle.
1. Choose one or several activities or sports you enjoy:
Everyone has at least one activity that they like. Let’s take walking for example: very simple indeed but highly effective for improving blood circulation throughout the body. Good blood circulation means that oxygen and nutrients are being carried efficiently to all internal organs including lungs, heart, and brain as well as muscle tissue hence leaving the body full of energy and vitality.
2. Select and commit to at least 3 days in your week to practice your selected activity(ies) for 1 hour:
Commitment is essential when implementing changes in one’s lifestyle. Without commitment failure to change is eminent. We must find time in our busy schedule if we want change to work. No need to over commit. We’ve known beginners who’ve gone “gung ho” by implementing daily exercise for up to 2 hours at a time resulting in exhaustion within 2 weeks. Thus leading to the inevitable, “it’s too hard” or “I can’t keep this up. I get too tired”. So please, keep it simple and realistic for better chances of success.
3. Find a time slot for each day that best suits your schedule:
Take a look at your daily activities and habits. Choose a time where you are the least busy and pencil in your activity for one hour:
- After Fajr prayer, while the children are still asleep or you steal a few of hours before work or class.
- After putting the children on the school bus or dropping them off at school.
- During your lunch break or between classes.
- Immediately after work or before picking the kids up from school.
- Just before sunset (Maghrib)
4. Prepare whatever equipment you will need for your activity(ies):
Being prepared is extremely important. If the needed equipment is not available then it’s over. Busy schedules do not permit losing time for unpreparedness. So carry a sports bag in the trunk of your car with your “gear” or leave it at your workplace. If you’re a student, then leave your sports bag in your locker.
5. When the time comes, whether in the mood or not, don’t find excuses:
This is where your level of commitment will count the most. It becomes too easy for us to find excuses when we are not in the mood to do something. This is where the winners will rise above their laziness and all the futile excuses popping up in their mind. They will hold true to their commitment and reap the rewards at the finish line.
6. Find a partner to share activities with:
In our experience we’ve found that some people commit more easily and successfully to being active if they have a partner. There is an increased sense of accountability and responsibility with a partner. It also becomes a support system where each individual relies on the other for encouragement, motivation and progress.
We hope that this article will inspire and motivate our brothers and sisters to make positive changes in their lifestyle, improve their health and become well-rounded Muslims. Let us know how you get on with playing hard!