Yesterday for some Sunday Funday we braved the cold, rain and flooded roads for something a little different. Over the last few months I have helped out with health screening for two different fit for hajj programmes. It is a journey which is not only spiritual but also physically challenging.

I love volunteering and helping out in the different communities, after all that is one of the main reasons I became a doctor to help people and make a difference in other people’s lives no matter how big or small.

I didn’t think much of it the first time I was asked to help with health screening. All I had to do was BP check , sugar test , height and weight right? But speaking to these aunties and uncles I realized that the physical aspect is something which a lot of people neglect. They go to all the hajj classes and learn about performing the hajj and what it entails but will only truly know once they themselves experience it first hand. So listening to the radio on my way to mosque this past Friday I was struck by something the imam (priest) said , you only get one opportunity to perform your Fard (compulsory) Hajj so make the most of it and be prepared. There are no do overs , So in saying so preparing these aspiring Hujaaj for their first pilgrimage we would hope that they are physically, mentally and spiritually ready for this journey of a lifetime.

From the first screening day the energy of positivity was infectious and I jumped at the opportunity to help again, giving of my spare time over the weekend to help complete strangers. I remember giving little bits of advice about hydration which I helped my parents with when they went on hajj a few years ago.

One of the take home messages was that you don’t want to have to worry about your health when on hajj , it is such a life changing experience, so prepare yourself as much as possible with the things you can control. Get a physical check up start or continue regular exercise at least 30minutes of walking 3-4 times per week building up your endurance. The days are long and there are lots of physical requirements you will need to fulfill in order to get the most out of this spiritual journey.