Dubai Fitness Challenge exceeds expectations with over 700k participants

Angel Chan

DUBAI 7 January 2018: The success of the recent Dubai Fitness Challenge, DFC, launched by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, 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.

The total number of registered participants 786,000, far exceeded the target of 100,000 set ahead of the challenge, which ran from 20th October to 18th November.

Furthermore, 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.

Geared towards making Dubai the most active city in the world, in turn boosting collective social well-being and happiness, the initiative encouraged participants to commit to a minimum of 30 minutes of daily activity for 30 days.

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 the DFC found that 57 percent of respondents exercised 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 percent were “very active” an increase of 14 percent. Meanwhile, the proportion of respondents describing themselves as “inactive” fell from 8 to 2 percent.

The impact of the 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 routine activities, including walking and standing in excess of one hour, improved from 74 percent in the pre-DFC period up to 85 percent during DFC.

Among smokers, there was an important behavioural change, with the percentage describing themselves as “regular smokers” falling from 67 to 58 percent.

The Dubai Sports Council, which was an official government endorsee of the DFC, helped organise the packed calendar of events and activities across the city. Council’s Vice President Mattar Al Tayer, said, “I would like to thank H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for launching Dubai Fitness Challenge, which 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.

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing said, “I would like to thank H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum not only for envisioning the Dubai Fitness Challenge and inspiring the entire city to mobilise for it, but also for leading the way and motivating residents through his own participation.