Can/Should You Keep Exercising (Walking) while fasting?

Fasting is the act of deliberately abstaining from the intake of food or liquids for a period of time. Fasting is practiced for a variety of reasons, including fasts to cleanse or detoxify the body, fasts for weight loss (including dieting), fasts to treat a medical condition and fasts for cultural or religious reasons (i.e. to conform to religious practices). Fasting is also a kind of test of your willpower and patience.

The Lenten season in the Christian calendar is here again, and during this period, fasting is recommended for healthy adults between the ages of 14 and 65 years. Consequently, religious faithful around the world will be embarking on a period of fasting, prayer, abstinence and arms-giving, in reflection of the life of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made thousands of years ago for the salvation of the world.

When considering embarking on a fast, the type of fast you choose should be appropriate for your level of health, activity level, body chemistry and any special physical needs that you may have. When you do not consume liquids or foods throughout a day, your energy level may be affected and your overall capacity to perform certain tasks may be reduced. In such a case, you may want to consider resting for the entire period of fasting, to conserve energy.

The question is, Is It Safe to Exercise While Fasting?


Exercising While Fasting Is not for Everyone
Regular exercising for those who fast for long periods of time may not be appropriate. For instance, Christians who fast during the period of Lent or Muslims who fast during the time of Ramadan are at an increased risk of developing dehydration. There is however no strong evidence of lowered energy levels during a fast. Ultimately, the decision to exercise while fasting should be made on a case-to-case basis considering the overall health of the person and the exact nature of the fast. Before starting a fast, consult with your doctor or health care provider, especially if you are on any medications or have a serious health condition.

A water fast is very stringent and should not be implemented without consulting your doctor. Only pure water is consumed, around 2 liters per day. The time varies depending on physical condition and goals. Medically supervised water fasts are thought to have been successful in normalizing blood pressure. A type of detoxification diet, a water fast involves drinking only water for a specified period. Since water does not need to be broken down by the body's digestive system, the digestive system is able to completely rest during a water fast. Detox diets are sometimes touted as a way to remove toxins from the body. Since no additional nutrients, calories, fats or nutritional substances are consumed during a water fast, the body instead processes and removes old toxins that have built up inside the body. Most fasting diets last between three and 30 days, depending on the person's preferences and health status.

• Juice Fast
A juice fast involves consuming liquids from fruits or vegetables only. No solid foods are eaten for a specified period of time, which can be anywhere from one day to two weeks. A juice fast is simple but requires some planning to ensure you get enough vitamins and minerals from a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables can be processed in a juicer, a blender or a food processor. A blend of fruit or vegetables is mixed with water and consumed three to six times daily.

• Cleansing Fast
Cleansing fasts use a liquid drink containing lemon juice, some form of simple sugar for calories and cayenne pepper or another spice. The idea is to cleanse the colon of food and toxins. The liquid is drunk 6 to 12 times daily. A more intense cleansing may use a laxative tea consumed twice daily, once in the morning and in the evening. Cleansing fasts can last from one to 14 days. Longer fasts should be supervised, and you should be aware of any symptoms of negative reactions.

• Partial Fasts
Partial fasts (which could be also termed abstinence) exclude a particular type of food such as rice, wheat or meats. A partial fast includes some solid food but can restrict the amount of food to less than one to three complete meals.

• Liquid Protein Fast
Liquid protein fasts are typically used for weight loss in obese patients. Liquid protein diets can help people lose anywhere from 4 to 40kg, but should be medically supervised.

• Diagnostic Fast
Diagnostic fasts can be performed for a variety of testing purposes. Diagnostic fasts require you to abstain from eating or drinking anything except water for eight to 12 hours prior to testing. As one example, a diagnostic fast is required before you take the fasting glucose tolerance test, which measures blood glucose levels to diagnose diabetes or hypoglycemia.

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