healthier lives through physical activity Abu Dhabi, UAE: Festivities for the first UAE National Sports Day got off to grand start in the capital on Wednesday when thousands of participants were led on a walk along the Corniche by Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
Dozens of events organised by the Council were held throughout the emirate in various locations for the inaugural sports day, whose theme was “UAE Brings Us Together”.
Beginning at 10am, Sheikh Nahyan led residents for a two-kilometre stroll along the capital’s seafront.
Throughout the day, activities such as basketball, football, tennis, judo, badminton, chess, Zumba fitness classes, and swimming were scheduled to be held at a number of sites including the Al Bateen Ladies beach, Zayed Sports City, Eastern Mangroves, Mussaffah, and along the Corniche.
Adjacent to Nation Towers, residents took part in more than 20 activities, including a bocce court for participants with special needs.
Ahmed Al Suwaidi, 17, visited the cross-fit competition area with several of his friends, where they took turns hoisting barbells over their heads.
He said residents can make a greater effort to live healthier lives through physical activity.
“Cross-fit is a good workout for the entire body,” he said. “It also targets all of the muscles in the body.”
Carmen Nassar, 22, and Samar Ghafari, 20 – both from Alhosn University – stumbled upon the activities while walking in the area.
“I love sports, so this is a great idea,” said Ms Nassar, who said she spent lots of time in the gym and played volleyball, basketball and tennis.
With obesity rates in the UAE believed to be double the global average, leaders have made efforts to promote increased physical activity among residents.
“I think it’s very important for us in the UAE to make sports a priority in our daily lives,” said Talal Al Hashemi, technical director with Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
“Our vision at Abu Dhabi Sports Council is to make sports part of people’s lifestyle, so this day helps us to have a chance to let people know the various locations around Abu Dhabi where they can participate in sports, where the clubs are located, and the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.”
To keep people active, he said the council had organised 48 events during the year for the community.
Organisers behind UAE National Sports Day – created upon the orders of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai – said the focus was also on promoting sports and activities in a non-competitive manner.
Mr Al Hashemi said a number of volunteers were on hand to provide guidance and help newcomers to learn the rules of any sport they were interested in.
“We were thinking to let people compete in sports in a friendly atmosphere, and also let them know how it can make a difference in life and take away the pressure,” he said.
Teacher and coach Naela Aslam from Mubarak bin Mohammed School took part in an outing that brought out more than 65 pupils from Grade 1 and 5.
“It’s good for physical activity, and to help them improve their health and enforce that in the kids,” she said.
“It should be part of their daily lifestyle, they should be active all the time.
“And they’re kids, so it needs to be made fun so that they realise that being healthy is part of their life and it can be something fun to do.”
More than 124 activities were organised around Abu Dhabi throughout the day, with more than 290,000 students, teachers and administrators from 489 public and private schools participating, reported Abu Dhabi Education Council.
© The NationalNov 2015