Only 30 percent of Abu Dhabi residents are regularly active, despite the government’s ongoing efforts to promote and encourage healthy lifestyles.
Talking National Speaking on the sidelines of the 9th Congress of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH), Dr Omniyat Mohammed Al Hajeri, director of community health at the Abu Dhabi Public Health Center, said encouraging the public to be more active is a “universal challenge”.
“From the conference today, we have realized that this is a problem and many countries are facing it, especially after Covid and especially with the younger generation.
“However, it is also important that we understand that despite all the infrastructure available that is expected to enable people to be active, we still have around 30 per cent of Abu Dhabi society being active on a regular basis, so it is clear that there is still a lot to be done.”
Abu Dhabi continues to sponsor cycling routes, neighborhood parks, marathons and community running schemes, but the Ministry of Community Development’s 2021 Quality of Life Survey found that up to 70 percent of Abu Dhabi residents engage in little physical activity.
This inactivity has led to health problems such as obesity and cardiovascular disease in the country.
“We need to have more research that tries to identify other potential barriers,” Dr Al Hajeri said.
“We need to explore opportunities to encourage physical activity in all types of activities and basically in all settings – so more movement at home, more movement at work, more movement at school, more movement wherever you go.”
A previous study has shown that only about 19 percent of people in Dubai do the recommended exercise.
In a regional survey compiled by the World Obesity Federation at the end of 2020, it was found that in Saudi Arabia, 42 percent of women and 31 percent of men were obese.
In the United Arab Emirates, the figures were 31 percent for women and 25 percent for men.
One of the main reasons for the lack of exercise cited at the conference was the hot weather, with temperatures in the UAE rising to an average of 41°C during the summer months and a high of around 50°C.
“Now one of the potential challenges that people keep mentioning is the hot weather – and I have to say that yes, we don’t have the best weather most of the year, but we do have some very good months where the weather is great for outdoor exercise,” said Dr. Al Hajeri.
It’s also important to remember that Abu Dhabi is very safe, so people can walk around at night, he said.
“You really need to encourage people to be more mobile in every possible situation,” the health chief said.
“So if you work six to eight hours and your job is mostly a desk job, you can either take short breaks and walk around to make sure you’re active, do some of your work standing, for example, or have an office treadmill.”
The ISPAH congress will be held in Abu Dhabi for the first time this year and will end on Wednesday.
It is the world’s largest exercise and health congress and is widely recognized as the leading global society of researchers and practitioners focused on the promotion of exercise.
Updated: October 26, 2022 at 3:24 am