Top tips to keep kids fit in the hot UAE summer

Dubai College director of sport, Andy Jones, tells kids how to stay fit and keep cool

Top tips to keep kids fit in the hot UAE summer

While we have all managed to deal with the restrictions of lockdown due to the COVID crisis, the thought of a long, hot summer ahead in the UAE may seem quite daunting.

With the mercury rising and the stifling humidity returning for the months ahead, it won’t be as easy to stay active and avoid the sedentary cabin fever of being inside for hours on end.

So we need to think about how we can stay active while it’s too hot to exercise outside during the day.

Change our body clock

As the middle of a summer’s day is hot enough to cook an egg on the asphalt outside, we need to maximise our time in the relative fresh air by being active in the mornings and in the evenings around sunset. This will mean re-booting our body clock to have downtime during the afternoon, which sounds really strange. However, the siesta in Spain and qayloulah in Arabian culture both exist for this very reason. Be active early, lie low in the afternoon and re-awaken to enjoy the cooler evenings.

Count your steps

In order to stay fit and healthy, research has shown that hitting 10,000 steps per day provides a baseline to stay in shape. Fortunately, watches such as fitbits that measure your activity levels have now become very affordable and are a great idea to motivate children to achieve daily targets.

Provide simple challenges

Creating challenges can help keep children focused and motivated, which can be further incentivised with a reward for a good outcome. I have created a vertical challenge below, which is linked to measuring steps and ‘climbing’ landmarks around Dubai and the UAE. Every time a landmark is achieved, provide a small reward for their efforts and endeavours. If your children really get into the challenge, give them a longer time frame to conquer other mountains such as Mont Blanc (4810m), Kilimanjaro (5895m) or Everest (8848m).

The Vertical Challenge

Climb the heights of UAE’s famous landmarks using your stairs at home.

One stair climbed = 1m of height.

Choose from:
• Dubai Frame – 150m
• Burj Al Arab – 321m

• Burj Khalifa – 830m

• Jebel Hafeet – 1,249m

• Jebel Jais – 1,892m

Morning land, evening sea

Finally, one rule to remember when exercising outdoors in the summer months is that going inland in the morning is better due to the lower humidity, whilst the evening breeze means being on the beach at sunset will provide the best respite from the stifling heat.

For early morning exercise, Al Qudra bike track is a great option, where it is possible to hire cycles and still have breakfast post-exercise, before it gets too hot. The opposite is then true in the evening, as the onshore breeze tends to be at its strongest as the sun goes down, making it the best time of day for a swim in the sea.

This would also be a good time to reward your kids with a cool drink for staying active and beating the heat throughout the long days of summer.

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