More challenging and exciting events have been lined up for the third edition of the Dubai Fitness Challenge/file photo. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The monthlong Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC), held in October and November last year, has surpassed expectations, with 90 per cent of 786,000 participants engaging in at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, it was revealed on Saturday.

The DFC was launched by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, to promote an active and healthy lifestyle, with residents committing to ‘30x30’ — 30 minutes of daily activity for 30 days.

On Saturday, Dubai Tourism revealed outcomes of the initiative, in which the total number of registered participants — 786,000 — far exceeded the target of 100,000 set ahead of the challenge, held from October 20 to November 18 last year.

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 actual reach of the initiative was over one million.

The commitment to physical activity 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, complete with support from professional trainers and fitness tips from international experts.

A survey of registered participants found that 44 per cent were from schools, reflecting strong involvement of children, while 33 per cent were individuals or from corporations, and 23 per cent from government entities.

It also revealed that 45 per cent of participants were female, a significantly higher proportion than in the general population of Dubai, while there was also wide representation across the age groups, with 34 per cent over the age of 40.

Participation also spanned across people of determination and those with specific health issues.

A survey of registered participants conducted before 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’. Meanwhile, the proportion of respondents describing themselves as ‘inactive’ fell from eight to two per cent.

Moreover, 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 DFC.

Dubai Sports Council (DSC) was an official government endorsee of DFC and helped organise the calendar of events and activities across the city. Mattar Al Tayer, vice-president of DSC, said: “I would like to thank [Shaikh Hamdan] for launching [DFC], 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 Al Merri, director-general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), said: “The success of [DFC] has provided overwhelming evidence of the changes in behaviour possible after just a few weeks, with participants changing habits and committing themselves to healthier lifestyles.”

Dewa (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) was DFC’s principal event partner. Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer, CEO of Dewa, said DFC “has created a positive competition and changed the lifestyle of many people in our society making them healthier and fitter … We are pleased that Dewa was the main and exclusive event partner in our role as a socially responsible government organisation, and as part of our efforts to achieve the directives of the wise leadership to make sport a part of the culture of the UAE society.”