An Active Family Is A Happy Family - Being healthy in Dubai by Nutritionist and Personal Trainer Baraa El-Sabbagh

Dubai, A Family’s Playground

As nutritionists and dietitians, we understand how hard it can be for parents to find activities to do with the kids, hence the family and kids end up eating out on the weekend. So I got in touch with Dubai's best personal trainer and dietitian, Baraa El-Sabbagh, to give us her opinion on what are the advantages of being active in Dubai and what are some options.

 

The number of activities available for families in Dubai is astronomical. There’s something for everyone, from the parents to the teenagers to children and the toddlers. Even with the most creative ways available to spend time with loved ones, a lot of time, families in the UAE choose to spend their quality time together dining out. Being a dietician in Dubai, I can understand the appeal of the many restaurants and choices available. There’s brunch with an open buffet every Friday, burgers for lunch at the mall, and a nice dinner by the beach with live entertainment… the possibilities are endless!


Quality Time Away From Food


Families are busy throughout the week, it’s understandable that they don’t get to spend that much time together, so it falls on the weekend to plan something everyone can be involved in, which is usually a meal. What if I told you there was an activity out there that didn’t involve eating, you could do it on weekdays AND weekends, and it would leave everyone in super good moods? That’s right, it’s something that has to do with movement! If you thought you can’t partake in the same physical activities as your family, I’m here to set the record straight. From ice skating to swimming to bowling, a family that exercises together, stays together! I think that’s how the saying goes… 


What Are The Benefits?


The key here is to rethink the concept of being active. When you think of working out, you think of the drudgery and hassle of getting to the gym and hopping on a treadmill. First of all, it doesn’t have to be that way for you or your family. There are plenty of fun classes and personal trainers in Dubai that can revolutionize exercise for you if you want to make that change! 


Check out all the nice vibes and benefits you’d be getting when you choose to get active with your family: 


  • An endorphin spike in all of you, leaving you in excellent moods and enjoying this time you spent together.

  • Your younger kids are easily influenced by what they see you doing, so when they grow up around healthy habits like exercise and eating well, they’ll self consciously adopt that mentality in adulthood. 

  • What better way to bond with your kids than to fall over while skiing, again and again? It’s fun to encourage and challenge each other through these activities.

  • Spending time and perfecting something together can grow intimacy between family members. It also improves communication between one another and creates a feeling of unity.

  • New research shows that a child that exercises almost always has improved academic performance… definitely a great benefit to come out of family time. 

OK, You’ve Convinced Me! What Activities Can We Do?


I know the summers in Dubai can limit some outdoor activity choices, so here are some indoor activities you can do together:



  • Take a walk in the mall of your choice. Now remember, you’re not going in to buy anything nor are you finishing up any errands. This is family time! Your challenge can be to complete 10,000 steps and the first one that gets there (there’s an app on your phone to count), gets to choose the movie for movie night!

  • Arrange a spring cleaning of your home. I’m positive there’s at least 4 closets filled with things you can clean out together. Have each child make a pile that they’d like to donate to a local charity.

  • This might seem a little out of your family’s comfort zone, but give it a try. Put on some music (it can be old music, Arabic music, or even rap) and dance around the house. Be goofy and fun, and try not to take it too seriously! It’s all about moving, and dancing is a great way to do that.

  • Have your kids be your coach. While you’re watching TV together, give your kids the authority to call out different exercises for you to complete. If they say 20 push ups, you have to do them! Then it’s your turn to be a coach. 
  • Complete a home workout program together! As adults, you’re always being told to work on your muscles to strengthen them. If you’ve been putting that off because it doesn’t seem that interesting to you, take it from me: invite your kids to do it with you. There’s nothing more fun than a plank challenge with your 8 year old! 
  • The beauty of living in Dubai is the fact that you can go skiing in the middle of July. Pick a day on the weekend for a family day at Ski Dubai.

  • The beach is always a good idea to stay active. Take a ball the next time you’re there and play some beach volleyball with your family. Don’t bring any books or anything with you, just balls and rackets. Even making sand castles counts as a physical activity! If you have older kids, take a paddle boat out to sea. It’s an excellent way to get those glutes working and your kids will have a blast.

  • Find an indoor basketball court or football field, and play a short game! You can have your kids invite some of their friends to make bigger teams and get your game face on. 

Listen To Your Kids


If your child doesn’t have hand-eye coordination or doesn’t really enjoy competitive sports, listen to what they have to say. Maybe they’d rather go walking, bowling, or try dancing. Try not to force them into the activities you want to do because they genuinely won’t be comfortable with it, meaning they won’t enjoy it and might be put off exercise all together. Have them write down a list of activities that require movement, but on their own terms. That way, everybody’s happy!


Send Me Ideas


I’m always on the hunt for ideas for family activities. If you have a favorite, please send it in! I love hearing from you and finding out if your family benefited from my ideas, as well. 



Guest Post Contributor: Baraa El Sabbagh is a registered dietitian, sports nutritionist, and personal trainer in Dubai. She hosts her own podcast called B for Better Health, where she brings on special guests and experts in the field of health and fitness. She also released multiple home workout programs suitable for all levels. Before being based in Dubai, Baraa studied in Beirut at the AUB.
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