Well being: Employers help staff stay active between Ramadan fasts

Companies must do more than just the office iftar to bind their staff during Ramandan. And exercises is a great bonding initiative.

Companies in the UAE need to do more than just offer an office iftar during Ramadan, says the managing director of sporting events business Duplays.

Getting together to get fit during the holy month is a great way to bond, says Derv Rao of Duplays.

This is the fourth year Duplays has organised its corporate games during Ramadan, which has been attended in the past by companies ranging from the Al-Futtaim and Al Rostamani groups to telecoms firms Etisalat and du.

Tonight it will have 100 businesses playing badminton, football, volleyball and basketball and even tug of war at the games. They will take place after iftar from 9pm to 1am at Dubai Sports World, with up to 500 employees competing.

“We tend to get a lot of local conglomerates but our focus this year is multinationals,” says Mr Rao. “They do a good job all year except during Ramadan. They have the best and most planned programmes for employees but, during Ramadan, they don’t get everyone together except for an iftar.

“Employees will never remember the time you took them out for dinner but they will remember bonding at a tournament.”

The other people Duplays wants to get to the games are construction workers, says Mr Rao. They tend to be offered free meals throughout the month but, with reduced working hours, have less to do with their time.

Omnicom Media Group is also trying to encourage its staff to carry on working out during Ramadan with a nutrition and Ramadan exercise seminar at the beginning of the month and its on-site exercise classes – circuits, Boxfit and yoga – brought forward from 6.15pm to 4.15pm to ensure employees can still squeeze in a session before iftar.

“Maintaining a regular and, at times, less intense schedule is key to ensuring our employees stay motivated about their wellness during and after Ramadan,” says Alanna Turpin, the media company’s group sustainability manager.

Almost two-thirds of Muslims plan to work out for 30 to 45 minutes before iftar, a survey of over 3,000 people by prayer mat company Timez5 found. One-third said they had been doing this for the past three Ramadans.

Q&A: Suzanne Locke expands on the importance of maintaining your fitness while fasting:

Tell me more about the Ramadan games.

Badminton has been introduced for the first time this year to encourage women to participate, says Derv Rao of Duplays. And there are team-building challenges, such as an obstacle course. “The main focus is not necessarily physical,” he says. “For every 100 employees, 40 to 50 don’t play team sports.” While Duplays runs corporate games throughout the year, he says participation rates are highest in Ramadan. Each sport costs Dh1,000 per team.

Do employees become less effective in Ramadan?

Oxford Strategic Consulting says that while Ramadan is often associated with a slowing down of operations, changing work models are becoming “more hospitable” to the Ramadan work schedule. Business leaders should “focus on improving well-being, increasing engagement and embracing flexible work patterns” during the month, says chairman William Scott-Jackson.

Any energy tips to keep me going through the day at work?

A “good fist-sized portion of meat at every meal” will keep you satiated, says Jim Heath, personal trainer at Ultimate Performance Dubai. “It means you won’t be hit as hard by hunger and food cravings, which can take your eye off the ball at the office.” Keeping protein intake high – that’s 1.6 to 2 grams per kilo of body weight – will also offset muscle protein loss while fasting, especially if you are exercising, he says.


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