Objectively quantified physical activity and sedentary behaviour in a young UAE population

BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2021 Jan 7;7(1):e000957. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2020-000957. eCollection 2021.


Objectives: There is a lack of public awareness of the importance of engaging in physical activity (PA) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Nearly 58% of the UAE adult population self-reports as being physically inactive although little accelerometer data currently exists. The aim of this study was to obtain the first dataset that objectively quantifies PA and sedentary behaviour (SB) in young UAE adults.

Methods: This cross-sectional study recruited 140 university students. Body composition and accelerometry was assessed using a Tanita body composition analyser and ActiGraph accelerometer. Differences (p≤0.05) between gender (male vs female) and body mass index (normal vs overweight/obese) were determined using independent samples t-tests and χ2 tests for nominal variables.

Results: Both males and females spent high amounts of time in SB, encompassing ~80% of waking hours. PA was primarily light intensity (14.1%), although males spent significantly greater time in moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity. Moreover, 50% of males compared with 76.6% of females were classified as sedentary/low active according to daily step counts.

Conclusion: Our data provide evidence of high levels of SB among young adults in the UAE with PA being predominantly light intensity, therefore, both PA and SB should be carefully monitored in this country.

Keywords: accelerometer; physical activity; sedentary.