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Fit for Hajj: A walking program prepares pilgrims for the spiritual journey ahead

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By Lee-Yandra Paulsen

As prospective Hujaaj eagerly anticipate their sacred pilgrimage, physical fitness takes centre stage in preparation for the rigorous demands of the hajj journey. In an effort to promote health and well-being, a dedicated walking program is scheduled to kick off next year.

Medical practitioner and vice chairperson of Fit for Hajj, Dr Saleem Parker emphasized the significance of physical readiness during an interview with VOC Breakfast on Wednesday.

He shed light on the practical aspects of hajj, stating, “About 45% of Hujaaj worldwide will walk at least some part of the hajj. While the pilgrimage is undeniably spiritual and emotional, the reality is that approximately 60% of it involves continuous walking and physical movement.”

Parker pointed out that the upcoming hajj will witness a substantial portion, around 90%, of Hujaaj covering a distance of at least 5km on foot, from Muzdalifah to Mina. With hajj occurring in the peak of summer, where temperatures soar between 40 to 50 degrees Celsius, and humidity intensifies, the physical demands of the pilgrimage become particularly challenging.

Recognizing the need for Hujaaj to be physically fit, Parker referred to a 2018 study that revealed a significant health advantage for those who participated in the Fit for Hajj program.

“Only 15% of Hujaaj who took part in Fit for Hajj fell ill, compared to 70% of those who did not engage in the program. The physical benefits of this initiative are tangible, as a fit and mentally prepared pilgrim is likely to find the journey more rewarding,” stated Dr. Parker.

Prospective Hujaaj intending to participate in the Fit for Hajj program next year are encouraged to register online at The program, commencing on January 6, 2024, involves walking on Saturdays for ten consecutive weeks, with a minimum commitment of six weeks. Before embarking on the program, participants will undergo a pre-fitness for hajj medical examination conducted by qualified doctors at Islamia on December 16, 2023. It is essential to note that the Fit for Hajj program is entirely free.

Parker highlighted the personalized approach of the program, stating, “Participants will be grouped based on their fitness levels to ensure comfort during the walking sessions. Prospective Hujaaj are encouraged to contact us at 071 698 7537 via WhatsApp or call to inquire about available time slots.”

Parker stated in promoting physical fitness, the Fit for Hajj program aims to empower Hujaaj, ensuring a more physically resilient and spiritually enriching pilgrimage experience.

VOC News

Photo: Pixabay

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