As you’re going up the short flight of stairs, you stop, struggling to take your next breath. At that moment, you come to realization that something needs to change. Physical activity plays an integral role in our overall health status. Therefore, when we neglect setting time aside for physical activity, it can result in a negative impact on our health.
We all know that incorporating exercises in our day to day lives is good for our health, but to what extent? One of the many benefits derived through physical activity is that it helps fight against health conditions and disease, one of which being cardiovascular disease. With increase in physical activity, we are able to improve our cholesterol levels by increasing our good cholesterol (HDL) and decreasing our bad cholesterol (LDL) (1). Exercises also provides for a drug free approach to lowering blood pressure through strengthening your heart (1). This allows the heart to pump more blood with less effort. If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, exercise may just be your answer. Physical activity improves the quality and duration of your sleep (2). It is suggested that the post exercise temperature drop is what promotes the falling asleep as well as the decrease in arousal, anxiety, and depressive symptoms which are commonly linked to insomnia (2). Another well known benefit to exercise is its positive effects on weight management. Regular physical activity has proven to help increase metabolic rate, allowing us to burn more calories resulting in weight loss when coupled with healthy eating habits (3). Last but not least, exercise has also shown to increase energy levels. Now most of you are wonder how this possible since we feel too exhausted to even get off our couch to exercise. The increase in energy occurs at a cellular level. When we exercise, we increase the number of mitochondria in the body so that we are able to produce more available energy for our body (4).
As a Muslim it is essential that we take care of our spiritual, emotional and physical health. With a body that is weak, it makes it difficult for us to even full fill the basic 5 pillars of Islam. The performance of our five daily prayers is a form of exercise in its self, which can become difficult due to our weight or disease. Fasting during the month of Ramdhan as well as performing Hajj requires us to be in good health due to the strength that is needed to complete these hard efforts. The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said “A strong believer is better and is more loveable to Allah than a weak believer” reported by Abu Hurraira (5). This statement translates to both our strength in our faith and our physical strength that is seen to be more desirable.
The recommended physical activity guideline for adults (18-64 yrs) is 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise as recommended by the World Health Organisation. Now this may look like a big number but it’s simply just 30 minutes of exercise 5 days of the week. At this point you’re either convinced you can do it or you’re already planning your list of excuses from “I don’t have any time” to “Gym memberships are too expensive”. Just as we have time to endlessly scroll through out phones, we can find 30 minutes in our day to get active. Exercise does not have to take place at the gym, it can be you going for a brisk walk at the end of your day or during your lunch break. Feel free to ask family or friends to join you as having a buddy can help motive you and create a sense of accountability. You can also utilize the internet by going on Youtube to search for exercise videos. For those of you with kids or younger siblings, join them in their play time when outside on the play ground or field to get your exercise in. It’s never too late to get started on improving your health, make today your day one and take your 30 minutes walk.
Written by; Raya Haddass
Myers, Jonathan. “Exercise and Cardiovascular Health.”Circulation 107, no. 1 (January 07, 2003). doi:10.1161/01.cir.0000048890.59383.8d.
Reid, Kathryn J., Kelly Glazer Baron, Brandon Lu, Erik Naylor, Lisa Wolfe, and Phyllis C. Zee. “Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia.”Sleep Medicine 11, no. 9 (September 1, 2010): 934-40. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2010.04.014.
Church, Tim. “Exercise in Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, and Diabetes.”Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases 53, no. 6 (May 2011): 412-18. doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2011.03.013.
Menshikova, E. V., V. B. Ritov, L. Fairfull, R. E. Ferrell, D. E. Kelley, and B. H. Goodpaster. “Effects of Exercise on Mitochondrial Content and Function in Aging Human Skeletal Muscle.”The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 61, no. 6 (September 01, 2006): 534-40. doi:10.1093/gerona/61.6.534.
Hadith – The Book of Destiny – Sahih Muslim – Sunnah.com – Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Accessed July 25, 2017. https://sunnah.com/urn/369830.