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Hamdan's fitness challenge inspires a million UAE residents

Team KT/Dubai
Filed on January 6, 2018 | Last updated on January 6, 2018 at 07.08 pm
The initiative aimed to make Dubai the most active city in the world.- KT file photo
The initiative aimed to make Dubai the most active city in the world.- KT file photo

(KT file photo)

The initiative has proven how people can dramatically change their lifestyles and habits in a short period of time.

A 30-day fitness challenge thrown to residents by the Crown Prince of Dubai in October engaged well over a million residents. Over 90 per cent of the participants of the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) achieved an average of at least 30 daily minutes of activity, with 93 per cent of them saying that they would participate in the challenge again.

What's more, 91 per cent said they would be advocates for the challenge, indicating the start of a fitness revolution in the city.

According to a report issued by Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), the total number of registered participants - 786,000 - far exceeded the target of 100,000 set ahead of the DFC, which ran from October 20 to November 18. "With surveys showing that almost half of attendees at the challenge's marquee events were not registered as official participants, it is believed that the real reach of the initiative was over one million, amplifying its impact and further enhancing its legacy," the report stated.

"The success of the DFC has been reinforced, with research showing its transformative impact on habits and the extent to which the city and the wider UAE embraced the initiative. With momentum boosted by social media amplification, the legacy of the challenge will continue to be seen in more active lifestyles and advocacy for healthier living in Dubai."

Launched by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, the initiative aimed to make Dubai the most active city in the world. It 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.

Engagement

A survey of registered participants found that 44 per cent were from schools, reflecting strong involvement from children. About 33 per cent were individuals or from corporations, with 23 per cent from government entities. About 45 per cent of participants were female, a significantly higher proportion than in the general population of Dubai.

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.

Transformative effect

A survey of registered participants conducted before the DFC 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 eight per cent to two per cent.

The percentage of people doing routine day 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 the 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.

Mattar Al Tayer, Vice-President of the Dubai Sports Council, said: "The DFC was undoubtedly one of the highlights of 2017 and has made a valuable contribution to making the city more active. Throughout the challenge, and especially at the events and carnivals across the city, we saw that participation came from all parts of Dubai's population, regardless of age, gender and background.

"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."

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of Dubai Tourism, said: "A particular point of distinction of this month-long initiative has been its all-inclusiveness and the manner in which it brought people together, regardless of age, gender, background or abilities, creating a real sense of achievement. Residents from across not only Dubai, but the UAE as a whole, embraced it, ensuring its legacy is living well beyond the 30 days of the challenge.

Advocates of the challenge movement

>Essa Al Ansari: An Emirati businessman who used the opportunity to share his story of losing 70kg after a health scare

>Nic St-Maurice: A celebrity personal trainer from Australia

>Sawsan Saad: An Egyptian TV and radio presenter

>Rio Ferdinand: The former Manchester United and England football star kicked things off during the opening weekend carnival at Safa Park

>Anthony Joshua: The reigning and undefeated World Heavyweight Champion joined the celebrations on DFC's final day at Dubai Festival City

>Rob 'The Killer' Edmunds: UK TV show 'The Biggest Loser' star

> Cedric Dumont: Pioneering BASE jumper

>Shaikha Al Qassimi: Emirati CrossFit and Red Bull athlete

reporters@khaleejtimes.com


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