Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) makes people happier

Since its launch in 2017, the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC), an initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, has played a crucial role in encouraging a more active lifestyle and positioning Dubai as one of the world’s best cities to live, work and visit.

This growing reputation was recently confirmed by a new study by UK-based Lenstore, which named Dubai one of the world’s best cities in its Healthy Living Cities 2022 report. The report evaluated 48 cities to determine the best for healthy living, based on ten indicators including outdoor activities and the cost of a monthly gym membership, both important areas for the DFC.

Now, new data from the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) on DFC 2021 shows how the initiative has positively contributed to community well-being over the past five years.

Founded in 2017, the DFC has grown year after year, with the number of participants more than doubling from 786,000 in its first year to 1,650,000 in 2021, nearly half of Dubai’s population. Major events such as the Dubai Run and Dubai Ride, which began in 2019 and 2020, respectively, saw record numbers of participants in 2021, with 146,000 runners and 33,000 cyclists taking to Sheikh Zayed Road.

The 5th edition of the Challenge continued to have strong female participation, with two out of five women (41%) making up the total number of participants, and while DFC attracts all age groups, the report showed that participation peaked at ages 18-39.

A study of participants showed a significant impact of physical activity on mental well-being: 28% reported an increase in self-esteem, and one in four (25%) said participation in DFC improved their mental well-being. The Challenge also benefited participants by reducing their anxiety level (24%) and promoting higher levels of relaxation (22%).

As the Challenge has grown and evolved, so has the city’s sports infrastructure: more free outdoor workout areas, hundreds of miles of running and biking trails, and a myriad of sporting events.  The fitness community has also benefited from a presence in DFC Fitness Villages and at fitness events to spread the word more widely about its unique concepts and offerings in Dubai.

DFC 2021 was designed to get people moving and enjoying the outdoors, and the eventful calendar of events offered fitness activities and events throughout the city for all age groups and fitness levels. Overall satisfaction with the 5th edition was extremely high, with 93% satisfied with their experience – up from 78% in 2020. The variety of activities (88%) and access to event information (88%) resonated most with participants, while the energetic atmosphere (87%) and easy accessibility to fitness classes and classes (82%) also contributed to their satisfaction with the 2021 Challenge.

The initiative was strongly supported by a large number of public and private sector partners who helped build community spirit, including organizers – Department of Economy and Tourism and Dubai Sports Council; presentation partners – DP World and Mai Dubai; association partners – Sun & Sand Sports, AVIV Clinics, Emirates Airline, Emirates NBD, Etisalat, Fitbit, Noon, Emaar, Shamal – Kite Beach and Dubai Municipality; Official Partners Anghami, Aster Hospitals and Clinics, Centrum, Dubai Chamber, Idealz and Rituals; Media and App Partners Arabian Radio Network (ARN) and STEPPI; Government Partners Dubai Corporation For Ambulance Services, Event Safety Committee, Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), Dubai Police, Ministry of Education and Roads & Transport Authority (RTA). The sixth edition of the DFC will take place from October 29 to November 27, 2022.

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