Dubai fitness

Fitness and fun beckon as the winter sun shines

The move towards exercising online – accelerated by the pandemic – is a good thing. But to me, nothing beats the feeling of exercising outdoors.

We all know the benefits of fresh air, of course. And getting away from the AC, even for half an hour, refreshes the heart, mind, and body.

Dozens of studies show that the weather does indeed affect our physical activity levels – or perhaps, more accurately, our desire to undertake outdoor activities.

But do seasons and weather changes influence physical activity levels? In a nutshell, yes, they do. In the UAE, they influence travel decisions too, with people quite often jetting off for the summer due to the heat.

In the more temperate climates (like Europe and the US), we can undertake winter sports such as hiking, skiing, snowboarding and suchlike. Here in the warmer part of the world, we are blessed with fantastic weather, ripe for outdoor activity all winter long.

According to this piece on NBC News, 20 to 21 degrees Celsius is the ideal temperature for outdoor workouts. So, it’s no surprise that winter in this region inspires many to go for a morning jog by the beach or an evening stroll in the park.

Some of the most popular sports we can all take part in, here in the UAE, include marathon running, football, swimming, paddle boarding, cricket, tennis, golf, horse-riding, beach volleyball and many more. If you want to find an event in your favourite sport or to spectate, you can visit Dubai Sports Council, which has a calendar of events heaving with local sports activities.

Like winter keeps residents of the Northern Hemisphere indoors, summer has the same impact on us in the south of the globe. And with this comes Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). One of the consequences of this disorder is extreme lethargy.

The more motivated ones among us hit the gym over the summer, while those with perhaps higher motivation continue to attend fitness classes.

But the summer of 2021 is now behind us, and it’s time we all rekindled our relationship with outdoor fitness. Who wouldn’t want heightened levels of health, energy, and an overall sense of wellbeing? Here are some ways you can make the most of winter:

Expo 2020 Dubai Running Club

With this fantastic initiative, you can cross both getting fit and visiting Expo 2020 off your list in one go. Over distances spanning three to 10 kilometres, runners get to see some of the pavilions while getting their step count up. Sounds like just the thing for you? Learn more about it here.

Runners of all levels have the ultimate annual event to train for – the 2022 Dubai Marathon, set to be held at the end of January – so it’s not too late to start training. Due to the pandemic, the Marathon didn’t take place in 2021. I’m eagerly waiting for the 2022 event dates to be announced. Watch this space

The Jeep Tough Mudder is a team-oriented obstacle racecourse that challenges your fitness to the max. One event takes place in Hatta on Saturday, November 13.

There’s another chance to take part at Abu Dhabi’s Al Hudiyarat Island on Friday, December 10, and Fujairah Adventures Park on Friday, January 28, 2022. Expect some fantastic challenges like the ‘Pyramid Scheme’, a slippery slope that you’ll need teamwork to surmount, and the ‘Spread Eagle’, a tightrope walk above water.

There are two courses – one featuring 13 obstacles over 5km, or for the truly tough, 25-plus obstacles over a 10km route.

Of course, golf is one of Dubai winter season’s most perennially popular activities, attracting players from all over the world to play at some of the region’s best courses.

But world-class players will be heading to the Emirates this month, for not one but two major events. Firstly, there’s the AVIV Dubai Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates, part of the European Tour, with a US$1.5m prize pot, between November 11-14, closely followed by the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, between November 18-21, on the same course, with an incredible prize fund of US$9m.

We are blessed in the UAE with courses that are not only a dream to play on, but that also attract some of the world’s best players in significant competitions. Seeing the world champions playing on our very own courses is certainly an inspiration.

Dubai Fitness Challenge is one of my favourite months in the city, when everyone is encouraged to take up a new sport, have some fun with team sports, and basically, enjoy everything Dubai has to offer from a sports perspective.

What’s even better is the month-long event (October 29 – November 27) also includes wellness activities and only asks participants to commit to 30 mins of exercise every day for 30 days.

Tie Break Tens

Now this sounds particularly fun, and promises to be a great day out for the family too. Tie Break Tens involves quickfire rounds of tennis. It’s perfect for all kinds of sports spectators, from die-hard fans to casual viewers.

Even if you don’t attend the actual Tie Break Tens, you can get creative with it at home. Shortlist your family’s favourite games and give them a twist with a nail-biting time limit. A healthy dose of competition brings out the best in all of us.

This winter, don’t fixate on reaching 10,000 steps a day. While it’s a perfectly healthy goal, it’s not exactly rooted in scientific fact. Instead, prioritise positive movement, whatever that may look like for you.

It could be a spin class with your best friend, a post-dinner power walk with your family, or a relaxing yoga class that doubles as quality “me-time”.  With fitness, and most things in life, a little goes a long way.