Dubai: A Gulf News poll reveals 74 per cent of readers do not get enough exercise.
Our survey of the fitness habits of 3,103 readers across the UAE produced worrying results — with a majority of 51 per cent of those asked admitting they do no exercise at all.
Seven per cent say they exercise only once a month and 16 per cent work out once a week.
Just 26 per cent of those asked exercise daily.
Dr Jane Darakjian, nutrition, dietician, wellness and fitness consultant at the Manchester Clinic Dubai, recommends exercising an average of two to three times a week, for 20 to 40 minutes a session to stay healthy.
“The majority of the UAE’s population doesn’t exercise, it is part of Dubai’s lifestyle,” she said.
The main cause, she noted, was the weather. “We have three to five months where the weather is very hot and people cannot exercise.”
Dr Darakjian added that exercise is more popular among expatriates as it is part of their culture.
She said that expatriates prefer to exercise and jog outdoors, but again the weather is an issue. “People tell me they do not like using a treadmill and I tell them to walk in malls. People really need to move,” she added.
The Dubai Sports Council (DSC), a government authority dedicated to developing and improving sports in Dubai, has been actively raising awareness about the importance of physical activity, specifically sport, and encouraging residents to make exercise a part of their lifestyle.
A study conducted last year by the Council, in conjunction with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), revealed that only 36 per cent of Dubai residents are involved in physical activity of some nature, two per cent up from 2009.
According to the DSC, physical activity plays an integral role in disease control by improving fitness, quality of sleep, aerobic capacity of the lungs and good cholesterol.
Further it reduces pain in stiff joints, fat and causes of age-related diseases.
The council urges residents to participate in sport and physical activities like running jogging, swimming and even experiment with traditional and group games with friends and family.
Dr Ahmad Al Sharif, General Secretary of the DSC, said that the Council has launched various programmes with public and private organisations as well as the Dubai Municipality.
The DSC has activities ranging from walks in shopping malls to special programmes for people over 60.
Dubai Municipality has offered its facilities and provided physical fitness equipment to motivate various classes of society to practise outdoor sports.
He told Gulf News: “Dubai has playgrounds and open areas to do physical activities for free. It is the government’s objective to encourage all kinds of physical activity. We also plan to launch a sports map of facilities.”
Ali Rabie Hussain, a 23-year-old Iraqi living in Dubai, told how he tries to work out regularly, he said: “I try to exercise every three days to stay healthy and in shape.
“If I don’t manage to exercise because of busy work schedules, I still try to play football twice a week to alternate,”
Dubai resident, Olita Dubanevica, said: “The hot weather in UAE does make you lazier, but I am determined to push and challenge myself, to exercise on daily basis, to stay healthy at all times. Hard work always pays off.”
Dubanevica stated that her daily exercises vary as she targets different body muscles.
Randa Tarek, a 22-year-old Egyptian in Dubai, explained that she tried to enrol in two different gyms, aerobics and Zumba classes to become more healthy and fit.
But she admits it is hard to fit exercise into her routine, she said: “Exercising in the UAE is hard because everyone is busy with their daily life, studies or work, and the hot weather is demotivating.”
But one resident, Majd Abi Ali, revealed he never exercises, he said: “I don’t believe in exercising.
“Exercising just makes you look fit, but if you eat unhealthy food and smoke while you exercise then how are you healthy at the end of the day?”