Abu Dhabi kids have fun while getting fit

Participants head to Adnec to find out for themselves that physical activity and healthy living does not have to be boring.

Dancing, rock climbing, rowing machines and so much more for youngsters to try out at the Health and Fitness Fun Festival at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Delores Johnson / The National
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ABU DHABI // Getting his groove on for a video dance exhibition in the capital on Wednesday was about more than just having fun – or upping his street cred – for 12-year-old dance fan Abdulla Ali.

The youngster was an integral part of the message being promoted at the Health and Fitness Fun Festival in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

“I like dancing, it’s a lot of fun,” said Ali, as he got busy while playing the Xbox video game, Just Dance.

“It really gets my body moving.”

While showing off their dance moves, Ali and his fellow pupils were having their heartbeat and number of steps they took monitored – using a Fitbit health bracelet – by students from the Fatima College of Health Sciences.

“The kids are happy, they’re dancing, and they’re really moving,” said paramedics student Fatima Al Ali.

“By dancing, you get some good physical activity, with the benefit coming from getting the cardiovascular system working.

“Nowadays, everyone is sitting around with a tablet in their hands. There’s not enough physical activity.”

The dance exhibition was just one of many fun activity portals set up by student volunteers from Fatima College and other participants.

Festivalgoers also had the chance to practise yoga, perform mock surgery or challenge themselves with a vigorous five-minute workout with jumping jacks, squats, stability ball exercises and push-ups.

The festival, in its fifth year, is organised by the Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training.

It brings together health, fitness, and medical experts as well as fitness clubs and businesses to promote healthy lifestyles.

The festival organiser, Ibrahim Eissa Al Yassi, said that the event was part of a broader effort to promote healthy living across the UAE by promoting fun activities to get people moving.

“We’re showing that exercising is for everyone and we are connecting physical activity with education,” he said.

On Wednesday morning, the first day of the festival, most of the visitors were school pupils – who enjoyed taking part in sports such as football, fencing and judo. Cooking classes, food exhibits and educational presentations were held, too.

One exhibit set up to explain the negative health effects of smoking caught the attention of a group of students from Secondary Technical School in Ajman.

“I’ve stopped smoking, but now I want to stop even more,” said Saif Zaid, 17, after looking at a medium-sized jar filled halfway with a black substance – said to contain the same amount of tar that would accumulate in the lungs of a smoker after one year.

“After stopping smoking, I thought maybe I could have just one a month,” he said. “After seeing that, I don’t want to start again.”

“It’s disturbing,” said Fahad Ahmed, 19.

“When you smoke just once, it can become an addiction.”

The festival continues on Thursday with a women-only programme, followed by a final day for everyone on Friday.