The Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi announced the results of its first Emirate-wide survey on community sports trends and revealed that 37.3% of respondents met the average physical activity rate measured by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global physical activity recommendations – which is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.
While the results showcased an improvement since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Abu Dhabi government is determined to increase the percentage of in the near future using an evidence-based and holistic approach that centers the sustained health of the community.
10,854 people from various nationalities and age groups took part in the survey. Of the participants, 57% were male and 43% female and the DCD ensured the participation of People of Determination.
The survey was conducted in an effort to better understand the Abu Dhabi community’s needs and behaviors in relation to fitness and healthy lifestyles and to gather essential information that will inform the decisions of the sports sector and shape its policies.
Talking about the results of the survey, His Excellency Mohamed Helal Al Balooshi, Executive Director of the Community Engagement and Sports Sector at DCD, said: “We are pleased to see such a positive response from the Abu Dhabi community, who’ve allowed us to gather insight about their lives and the way they pursue their health goals. We at the DCD, along with our partners and stakeholders, strongly believe that physical activity is essential to building a stronger and more resilient Emirate and country.”
He added: “That’s why we’ve been working on comprehensive programs and policies that will inspire people to get more active. Along with our stakeholders, multi-use sports facilities were created at parks across the Emirate; building awareness with our ‘One Community’ social cohesion campaign; and collaborating with public and private groups to generate interest in their respective sports, such as cycling with UAE Team ADQ, running and walking with Abu Dhabi Running Team and Swimming with Abu Dhabi Sports Council’s Active Hub. To keep track of fitness goals, events, wellness and more, people can also benefit from Abu Dhabi 360 app that was launched last year.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that engaging in regular activity is vital to improving physical and mental health.
Activities the community enjoys
Those who regularly practiced sports and physical activity often did so in easily accessible and community immersed ways, the survey found 47.3% of people who exercised regularly were walking for leisure, while 38.3% opted for jogging/running in order to keep fit. Respondents also mentioned cycling and swimming as their favored activities. These figures showcase how physical activity doesn’t have to be complicated or intense, and most active people are engaged in simple and inexpensive pursuits.
Breaking barriers to getting fitter
When asked for reasons why they did not practice sports or engage in physical activity, 41.3% of DCD’s survey participants cited the lack of time. This factor, along with others such as lack of motivation and adverse weather conditions, is commonly cited in other studies around the world and is reflective of the increasingly fast-paced global environment we live in.The Abu Dhabi government, partners and stakeholders are keen to understand people’s barriers to physical activity and promote time management and community connectedness, with the intention of offering people access to the tools they need to get healthier. The DCD hopes to use these statistics to the benefit of the community, as it will inform future campaigns, sports strategies and shape policies.