Health and physical activity in the light of Prophetic Traditions

Health and physical activity in the light of Prophetic Traditions
STROKE A Major Cause of Disability and Death
Qaiser Toqeer MPH MD
A Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., a Member of the American Board of Medical Specialties.
Novant Health Inc.
Dept. of Neurology

In our last addition we discussed briefly about causes of stroke and prevention. We divided the risk factors for stroke and heart disease into modifiable and non-modifiable. Non modifiable risk factors are those we cannot change or do anything about such as age, sex, gender and race. Modifiable risk factors are those that can be changed to reduce risk of diseases such as sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and unhealthy choices when it comes to diet. One of the most important modifiable risk factor we can work on is our lifestyle, specifically, physical activity to achieve a better health. American Heart Association Update 2017 suggested 75 min of brisk walk per week is associated with significant risk reduction for mortality compared to no physical activity.

Many of us lack understanding how physical activity reduces our chances of stroke and heart disease.  Physical activity has direct impact on producing collateral blood vessels. Collateral blood flow in these cases can be thought of as an alternate blood flow to organ. In addition, Physical activity reduces bad cholesterol by burning fat and has been shown to reduce Hemoglobin A1C significantly.  Furthermore, with each pound of weight loss we can achieve reduction in 1mmgH of blood pressure. There have been several studies published that establishes the fact that daily exercise not only prevent chronic illnesses but it also improves mood and overall quality of life. Center of disease control also stated regular physical activity has been shown to decrease colon cancer and breast cancer (CDC, 2015). Again, by achieving these goals we can improve our health and decrease the need for significantly costly medications. As Benjamin Franklin has reported to have said in his famous quote “An ounce of prevention is worth pound of cure.”

In the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) we find many examples in which physical activity has been encouraged. The first and foremost form of physical activity prescribed to us is the 5 times daily prayer. Although our intention is to please Allah SWA with our daily salat however it is one of the benefits of praying. Many of us attempt to visit Mosque during the day for these prayers again adds more time to our activity. Furthermore Prophet Mohammad SAW was involved in many types of activities of which included archery, horse riding, wrestling etc.  “Narrated Salama bin Al-Akwa: The Prophet passed by some people of the tribe of Bani Aslam who were practicing archery. The Prophet said, “O Bani Ismail ! Practice archery as your father Isma’il was a great archer. Keep on throwing arrows and I am with Bani so-and-so.” So one of the parties ceased throwing. Allah’s Apostle said, “Why do you not throw?” They replied, “How should we throw while you are with them (i.e. on their side)?” On that the Prophet said, “Throw, and I am with all of you.”  (Sahih Al Bukhari Book #52, Hadith #148)

Every saying of the prophet Muhammad (SAW) is guidance and a source of wisdom for us in life. Aisha (Mother of believers) reported “while she was on a journey along with the Apostle of Allah (SAW) I had a race with him (the Prophet) and I outstripped him on my feet. When I became fleshy, (again) I had a race with him (the Prophet) and he outstripped me. He said: This is for that outstripping.”(Sunan Abudawud Hadith 2572)

There are many more examples from the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) which encourage us to participate in physical activity. Recent studies also show significant benefits from consistent and moderate physical activity. These benefits are not limited to physical health only but also provide benefits in psychological health. Furthermore if we perform any activity to follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) we also get spiritual benefit.


Benjamin, Emelia J. et al “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, 2017 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association.” Circulation (2017)

“Physical Activity and Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 04 June 2015. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.

“Search in the Hadith (Hadis) Books of Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abu-Dawud, and Malik’s Muwatta.”  N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.

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