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

Sarah Dalibalta, Amin Majdalawieh, Sarah Yousef, Mohammed Gusbi, Jason Wilson, Mark Tully, Gareth Davison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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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.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000957
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalBMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 7 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements The authors would like to acknowledge the American University of Sharjah for funding this project, and all the students who volunteered to take part in the study. The authors also acknowledge the support by the Open Access Program from the American University of Sharjah. This paper represents the opinions of the authors and does not mean to represent the position or opinions of the American University of Sharjah.

Funding Information:
Funding Authors are thankful to the American University of Sharjah for funding this work (Grant#: FRG17-R-10).

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021.


  • accelerometer
  • physical activity
  • sedentary


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