Islam Exercise, Women, and Mental Health

Islam recommends exercise, and

    1. Allah has prescribed that Muslims be custodians (Khalifah) and protector/ maintainers (qawam) of this earth, women, and children.
    2. Allah has perscribed healthy eating (“Eat of all the good things” until the end) and collective humanistic activies (“Let there arise a group enjoining the right…” to the end).
    3. Fasting is prescribed in Islam and when linked with salat and excercise becomes a powerful life enhancing activity that increases mental health and positive life outlook.
  • The prophet recommended running.
  • Islam commands healthy eating and honest work.
  • It is part of the salat that there  is intrisic mobilization of every aspect of human functioning begining with the limbic neurological center, with intentionality that commands the energy of spiritual faith to emminate to every aspect of human funtioning even the cardiovascular, and neurological systems.

It is part of the salat that we be MINDFUL of its time and have Koushoua during its comission (Mindfulness–then –Intentionality).  There is the walking to the mosque, the chanting of Dhikr on the way, the Quran cd or dvd playing as you drive, or the Ipod or Ipad with wifi that is connected to masajid in 50 countries world wide.

Islam has many physical aspects especially with concern to average living activites, which are done with awarenes (taqwa) and moderated with best practice wisdoms (nasihah).

“Exercise has mental health benefits for men and women of all ages.  However, there are unique factors to consider in thinking about the mental health benefits of exercise for women in particular.

Compared to men, women have a two-fold increased prevalence of major depression throughout their reproductive life cycle.  Exercise can be a very useful treatment for depression in women at any of a number of different times in their lives:

  • During pregnancy and breastfeeding:  Depression is highly prevalent in women of childbearing age.  Medications are often necessary to treat moderate to severe depression.  However, many women wish to avoid treatment with medications for mild depression during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.  At least one study has shown that women who exercised regularly reported less depression in the first and second trimesters compared with women who did not exercise.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days for pregnant women.
  • During the postpartum period:  Exercise can also help to treat and prevent postpartum depression.  One study has shown that postpartum women who exercised three times per week had less depression than postpartum women who did not exercise.
  • During the premenstrual period:  Exercise can be useful to treat physical and emotional premenstrual symptoms.  It is less clear if exercise by itself can treat the most severe of premenstrual syndromes (called “premenstrual dysphoric disorder”), but it is still a first-line treatment strategy that most physicians would recommend.
  • During menopause:  Several studies have shown that aerobic exercise can improve both depression and insomnia occurring during menopause.  Additionally, lower intensity exercise such as yoga has been shown to improve psychological well-being in menopausal women. Importantly, women may experience barriers to exercise.  Here are some examples of these barriers, and strategies to help address them:
  • Childcare issues:  Women are often responsible for childcare, which makes it difficult for them to find opportunities to exercise.  Gyms that offer childcare services can be helpful.  Also, partners can share the workload.
  • Intimidation:   Some women may feel uncomfortable working out in the coed environment of a gym.  Consider taking women-only exercise classes, or walking or doing other exercise with women exercise buddies.”

Muslim women would be advised to form Muslim women groups  in private gyms where available:

  • Self-consciousness about appearance:  If a woman is already uncomfortable about her appearance, then she might worry that she’s drawing even more attention to her body by exercising, especially if wearing skimpy sports clothes.  One strategy is to try walking, which can be done almost anywhere and in almost any type of clothing.” Muslim men and women properly dressed can walk, run and participate in these type of activities.
  • Guilt:  Women, especially those who are family caretakers, sometimes describe feeling guilty about taking time for themselves to exercise.  Remember, it is not a selfish thing to exercise.  You are taking time to improve your physical and emotional health, which will allow you to more effectively be there for others.  Besides, you deserve to experience the benefits of exercise! “
  • See http://apahealthyminds.blogspot.com/
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