Sunday 20 January 2019

Dubai Fitness Challenge draws 786,000 people

DUBAI, January 7, 2018

Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC), an initiative geared towards making Dubai the most active city in the world, saw registration from 786,000 people, far exceeding the target of 100,000 set ahead of the challenge.

Surveys showed that almost half of attendees at the challenge’s marquee events were not registered as official participants, indicating that the real reach of the initiative was over one million.

The initiative encouraged participants to commit to a minimum of 30 minutes of daily activity for 30 days. The commitment was aided by a host of free sports events, 1,500 free exercise classes at 85 locations, pop-up gym sessions at over 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.

One of the hallmarks of the Dubai Fitness Challenge was its inclusiveness and the way in which it touched the lives of a broad spectrum of society. A survey of registered participants found that 44 per cent were from schools, reflecting strong involvement from children, a crucially important figure as getting kids active becomes increasingly challenging in a modern world, while 33 per cent were individuals or from corporations, with 23 per cent from government entities, underlining the support for the challenge from across the public sector.

About 45 per cent of participants were female, a significantly higher proportion than in the general population of Dubai, while there was also wide representation across the age groups, with 34 per cent over the age of 40. This was a clear indication that the challenge offered healthy lifestyle alternatives for older audiences just as much as it did for children and young families. Participation also spanned across people of determination and those with specific health issues, ensuring the drive for fitness did not exclude any part of society.

Among the most important outcomes has been the transformative effect the challenge has had on behaviour when it comes to physical activity. A survey of registered participants conducted before Dubai Fitness Challenge found that 57 per cent of respondents did exercise at least three times a week, putting them in the ‘very active’ category. A corresponding survey conducted after the 30-day challenge found that 71 per cent were ‘very active’, an uplift of 14 percentage points. Meanwhile, the proportion of respondents describing themselves as ‘inactive’ fell from 8 per cent to 2 per cent.

Those who participated in Dubai Fitness Challenge also demonstrated a strong commitment to their goals, with 90 per cent achieving their target of at least an average of 30 daily minutes of activity during DFC. Indeed, almost a third (31 per cent) averaged at least 60 minutes and the dedication to meeting the target was reflected in all the age groups. Of those surveyed, 91 per cent said they would be likely or active advocates of another challenge, while 93 per cent said they would themselves participate.

The impact of DFC has even resulted in a strong behavioural change in non-standard activity, showing people that incremental lifestyle changes can be made. The percentage of people doing a routine daily activity, including walking and standing in excess of one hour, improved from 74 per cent in the pre-DFC period up 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, there was an important behavioural change, with the percentage describing themselves as ‘regular smokers’ falling from 67 per cent to 58 per cent. Familiarity with sports provisions in the emirate also improved, with particularly strong increases in the levels of familiarity of sporting facilities (up 9 percentage points) and sporting events (up 8 percentage points).

Taken alone, these shifts in behaviours and habits were significant; amplified by social media, they resonated strongly with a wider audience, burnishing the challenge’s legacy. Across key social media platforms, DFC content was viewed 12.4 million times, with 2 million views on YouTube alone. The high level of engagement was emblematic of the manner in which momentum and motivation for such an initiative is dependent on society taking ownership and encouraging each other.

Dubai Sports Council was an official Government Endorsee of DFC and helped organize the packed calendar of events and activities across the city.

Mattar Al Tayer, vice president of Dubai Sports Council, said: “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. Also of note has been the way in which it has helped to raise awareness of all the sports and fitness facilities in Dubai, ensuring its legacy lives on well beyond the 30 days of the challenge itself.

“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.”

Featuring a huge range of sports from beach cricket, cycling and football, to paddle boarding, team sports, walking, yoga and everything in between, the carnivals during Dubai Fitness Challenge were completely free. Each event showcased a variety of stage performances, entertaining high-octane routines, celebrity fitness professionals that shared tips and interacted with the crowds and even had picnic zones with healthy food options to make it a weekend out with family and friends for all.

DFC mobile fitness units brought fitness to every resident, popping up in 75 different spots across the city including malls such as The Dubai Mall, Mercato and Ibn Battuta, lifestyle destinations like City Walk and The Beach at Jumeirah Beach Residence, as well as residential neighbourhoods including Jumeirah Lake Towers, Jumeirah Village Triangle and Al Barsha.

There were several opportunities for children to get active in a variety of ways including the X-Dubai X3 Junior Triathlon which saw little ones as young as four-run, cycle and swims at Kite Beach. Another exciting event that was enthusiastically embraced by families was Dubai’s first ever Superhero Walkathon which saw Dubai Marina transformed into a scene straight out of comic book wonderland.

Kids’ activities were also integral to the weekend carnivals with a dedicated Children’s Fun and Fitness Zone in every location featuring activities like bubble soccer, a climbing wall, trampolines, and an inflatable assault course, Horse Hoppers in addition to football skills, drills, training and games on small pitches.

Budding footballers learned how to tackle a ball, as well as try their luck at penalty shootout competitions, a dribbling slalom, freekicks and even the best goal celebrations. Inspiring kids to get more active was the Les Mills Born to Move classes, designed to set young people up with a lifelong love of physical activity. – TradeArabia News Service

Tags: DFC | Dubai Fitness Challenge |

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