Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 September 2019

More than 1 million people took part in Dubai Fitness Challenge

Survey of participants shows initiative's positive impact

Fitness entrepreneur Cassey Ho conducts Pop Pilates classes at Kite Beach as part of The Dubai Fitness Challenge. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Fitness entrepreneur Cassey Ho conducts Pop Pilates classes at Kite Beach as part of The Dubai Fitness Challenge. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Nearly 800,000 people signed up to take part in the Dubai Fitness Challenge, but the initiative likely reached more than one million participants, as nearly half of attendants at marquee events were not officially registered.

Geared toward making Dubai the most active city in the world, the initiative was launched by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, to encourage the public to commit to a minimum of 30 minutes of daily activity for 30 days from October 20 to November 18.

The campaign was supported by a host of free sports events, including 1,500 free exercise classes at 85 locations, pop-up gym sessions at more than 75 venues across the city, weekend fitness carnivals and other community-driven activities, complete with support from professional trainers and fitness tips from international experts.

The total number of registered participants — 786,000 — far exceeded the target of 100,000 set ahead of the challenge, organisers said. A survey of registered participants found that 44 per cent were from schools, 33 per cent were from corporations and 23 per cent were from government entities. Forty-five per cent were women and 34 per cent of all participants were over the age of 40.


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The challenge appeared to have a transformative effect on those who took part, according to questionnaires conducted before and after the challenge. Before DFC, 57 per cent of respondents said they were “very active” by exercising at least three times a week. After the challenge, 71 per cent described themselves as “very active.” Meanwhile, the proportion of respondents describing themselves as ‘inactive’ fell from 8 to 2 per cent.

Participants also demonstrated strong commitment to their goals, with 90 per cent saying they achieved their target of performing at least 30 minutes of activity daily during DFC. Almost a third, 31 per cent, averaged at least 60 minutes daily.

The percentage of people performing routine daily activity, such as walking and standing in excess of one hour, improved from 74 per cent in the pre-DFC period to 85 per cent during DFC. Similarly, there was a significant increase in the awareness of body mass index, up from 52 per cent to 71 per cent. Among smokers, the percentage describing themselves as ‘regular smokers’ fell from 67 per cent to 58 per cent.

“The initiative has proven how people can dramatically change their lifestyles and habits in a short period of time, bringing regular exercise into their daily routines,” said Mattar Al Tayer, vice president of Dubai Sports Council. “We encourage all residents to continue to take advantage of the sports and fitness facilities and public parks across Dubai as they build on their achievements during Dubai Fitness Challenge. As Dubai continues on its journey to becoming the most active city in the world, we will continue to work with partners in the public and private sector to ensure that all residents can meet their ongoing fitness goals.”

Updated: January 6, 2018 01:43 PM