Sheikh Hamdan expresses the hope that residents will continue their fitness journey
A record 2.2 million people took part in the sixth edition of the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) which took place from 29 October to 27 November. 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 transformed into an open-air gymnasium for a month.
A total of 2,212,246 people committed to the pledge of 30 minutes of exercise, every day, for 30 days during the month offering more than 13,000 free classes across two fitness villages and 19 hubs in Dubai.
“The participants set an example of committing to improving their health and well-being and contributed to transforming the fitness mindset of the entire community,” said Sheikh Hamdan.
“I want to thank every individual, government agency, business and organization that contributed to or participated in this initiative. Together we are well on our way to becoming the fittest city in the world.”
The Dubai Crown Prince also expressed the hope that residents will continue their fitness journey. “I encourage all of you to stay active by embracing all that our great city has to offer,” he said.
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 centers and were able to participate in diverse activities, including Padel tennis, soccer training and high-energy group training, suitable for all fitness levels. The first 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 constant source of encouragement. “Since its inception six years ago, DFC has inspired countless fitness and wellness journey success stories, from those just starting out, to fitness enthusiasts reaching new milestones,” he said. “DFC will continue to be a source of inspiration for citizens, residents and visitors to 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 by more than 180% from 786,000 in the first event in 2017 to 2.2 million in the 2022 edition. Dubai Run participants increased by 176% from 70,000 runners in the first edition in 2019 to 193,000 in 2022. Cyclists participating in Dubai Ride increased by 75% from 20,000 in 2020 to 34,897 in 2022.
The annual event makes Dubai the only city in the world to offer its citizens and visitors a whole month of free, inclusive and accessible fitness classes, activities and events across the emirate.
“Once again we have demonstrated our constant commitment 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, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council. “The small changes and healthy habits started during DFC don’t have to end when the challenge happens. I encourage everyone to continue to prioritize their physical and mental well-being throughout the year.”
According to a post-DFC survey conducted after the 2021 edition, participants reported tremendous psychological benefits, including positive self-esteem (28 percent) and strengthening of mental well-being (25 percent), indicating that the initiative had a positive impact had on social well-being.
It also raised awareness about the role of physical activity in improving health and reducing lifestyle diseases according to Dr. Ramadan Al Blooshi, Acting Director of the Department of Public Health Protection at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). “The event encouraged people to adopt simple but effective lifestyle habits,” he said. “This not only improves the lifestyle of the community, but also directly helps to mitigate the impact of lifestyle diseases on the health system.”
The initiative has also helped expand the emirate’s community sports infrastructure and free fitness and lifestyle facilities with more cycling and walking routes to be added. The public also has 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 increasing trade in sporting goods.