Dubai Ride 2021 Dubai Fitness Challenge
'Dubai Ride' under Dubai Fitness Challenge in 2021 on Sheikh Zayed Road Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: More residents have committed to daily exercise and reported a mental health boost thanks to ‘Dubai Fitness Challenge’ (DFC), a new report said on Sunday.

The report by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) said the 2021 edition of DFC saw an increase in the number of people completing their ‘30x30’ target, with 88 per cent of participants committing to a minimum of 30 minutes of daily exercise for 30 days – up from 85 per cent in 2020.

DFC was launched in 2017 by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai.

Surpassing targets

On Sunday, DET said many residents in 2021 also went “above and beyond” the 30x30 target, with 36 per cent dedicating more than 60 minutes to their health and fitness, and 12 per cent spending more than 90 minutes exercising each day.

Meanwhile, 28 per cent of participants reported an improvement in self-esteem and one in four said taking part in DFC enhanced their mental wellbeing. The challenge also benefited participants by reducing anxiety (24 per cent) and encouraging higher levels of relaxation (22 per cent).

Female participation in the challenge remained strong in the fifth edition, with women making up two in five (41 per cent) of overall participants’ numbers, and while DFC attracted all age groups, the report revealed that participation levels peaked at ages 18-39.

Non-stop growth

Established in 2017, DFC has grown year on year, and has seen the number of participants more than double from 786,000 in its inaugural year to 1.65 million people taking part in 2021 – which represents nearly half of the population of Dubai. Major events such as Dubai Run and Dubai Ride, which began in 2019 and 2020 respectively, saw record numbers take part in 2021 with 146,000 runners and 33,000 cyclists taking to Sheikh Zayed Road.

Dubai Run 2021 Dubai Fitness Challenge
Sheikh Hamdan leading 'Dubai Run' last year Image Credit: Supplied

Commenting on the report, Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), said: “The vision of His Highness has always been to make Dubai one of the most active cities in the world and instil healthy habits in our community. Today, we are proud to share that the number of DFC participants in 2021 represented almost half of Dubai’s population – an increase of 110 per cent since the Challenge began five years ago.”

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He added: “This incredible achievement demonstrates the commitment of our community to a more active lifestyle, with almost nine out of 10 participants achieving their 30x30 goals and reaping the benefits of the Challenge for both their physical and mental wellbeing.”

Meanwhile the overall satisfaction of the participants was extremely high for the fifth edition, with 93 per cent “extremely happy” with their experience – up from 78 per cent in 2020.

The sixth edition of DFC will return from October 29 to November 27.