Look: A record 2.2 million people participated in Dubai Fitness Challenge 2022

Sheikh Hamdan expresses hope that residents will continue with their fitness journey



Photos: Wam
Photos: Wam
by

A Staff Reporter

Published: Sat 3 Dec 2022, 10:45 PM

Last updated: Sat 3 Dec 2022, 10:47 PM

A record 2.2 million people participated in the sixth edition of the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) that took place from October 29 to November 27. The annual initiative by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, saw the entire city turn into an open-air gym for a month.

File photo
File photo

A total of 2,212,246 people committed to the pledge of 30 minutes of exercise, every day, for 30 days during the month that hosted more than 13,000 free classes across two fitness villages and 19 hubs in Dubai.

“The participants have set an example for committing to improve their health and wellbeing and contributed to transforming the fitness mindset of the entire community,” said Sheikh Hamdan.

“I want to thank each and every individual, government agency, business and organisation who contributed to or took part in this initiative. Together, we are well on the way to becoming the fittest city in the world.”

The Dubai Crown Prince also expressed hopes that residents would continue their fitness journey. “I encourage all of you to stay active by embracing everything our great city has to offer,” he said.

Mega events

In addition to the free classes, residents also had a chance to participate in two mega fitness events – the Dubai Ride Presented by DP World, and Dubai Run Presented by Mai Dubai – which transformed Sheikh Zayed Road into a giant cycling and running track for a few hours.

More than 263,000 residents visited the fitness villages and fitness hubs and were able to engage in diverse activities including Padel tennis, football training and high-energy group workouts, suitable for all fitness levels. The inaugural Expo City Dubai Sports and Fitness Weekend was also hosted during the month.

According to Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals & Retail Establishment, the challenge has been a continuous source of encouragement. “Since its inception six years ago, DFC has inspired numerous success stories of fitness and wellness journeys, from those just getting started, to fitness enthusiasts who have achieved new milestones,” he said. “DFC will continue to be a source of inspiration for citizens, residents and visitors of Dubai, encouraging them to commit to a healthier and more active lifestyle.”

Increase in participation

Dubai Fitness Challenge has seen a steady increase in interest and engagement with the number of registered participants growing over 180% from 786,000 in the inaugural event in 2017 to 2.2 million in the 2022 edition. Participants in Dubai Run increased 176% from 70,000 runners in the first edition in 2019 to 193,000 in 2022. Cyclists taking part in Dubai Ride increased 75% from 20,000 in 2020 to 34,897 in 2022.

The annual event makes Dubai the only city in the world that offers its citizens and visitors an entire month of free, inclusive and accessible fitness classes, activities and events across the emirate.

“We have once again demonstrated our constant dedication to maintaining our physical and mental health as one community working together towards one goal - a fitter and healthier future for all,” said Saeed Hareb, General Secretary of Dubai Sports Council. “The small changes and healthy habits started during DFC do not need to end when the challenge does. I encourage everyone to continue prioritising their physical and mental wellbeing throughout the whole year.”

Lasting changes

According to a post-DFC survey conducted following the 2021 edition, participants reported immense psychological benefits including positive self-esteem (28 percent) and reinforcement of mental wellbeing (25 percent), indicating that the initiative positively impacted social wellbeing.

It has also increased awareness about the role of physical activity in improving health and reducing lifestyle diseases according to Dr. Ramadan Al Blooshi, Acting Director of the Public Health Protection Department at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). “The event has encouraged people to adopt simple but effective lifestyle habits,” he said. “This not only improves the lifestyle of the community but also directly helps mitigate the impact of lifestyle diseases on the health system.”

The initiative has also helped expand the emirate’s community sporting infrastructure and free fitness and lifestyle facilities with more cycling and walking tracks to be added. The public also have access to running and cycling tracks and exercise equipment in both parks and beaches. The growing fitness consciousness of the Dubai community is also reflected in the emirate’s rising trade in sports merchandise.

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