Global health regulators, thought-leaders, policy-makers, practitioners and health professionals reinforced their commitment to promote physical activity, emphasising that exercising regularly is key to people’s health and wellbeing as the 9th International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH) Congress concluded on Wednesday.

The ISPAH Congress, the world’s largest physical activity and health congress, was hosted by Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC) and the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, and in strategic partnership with the International Society for Physical Activity and Health, World Health Organization, Ministry of Health and Prevention, Department of Community Development, Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Pure Health Mubadala Health and Fatima Bint Mubarak Sports Academy.

 

During the four days of the first Congress to be held in the Middle East, more than 4,000 people gathered at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre to discuss collaborative ways to promote the adoption of physical activity across all age groups in society. A total of 64 countries participated, while 393 scientific papers and 147 posters were presented as well as 122 scientific lectures being held. It was aligned with the Congress’ theme ‘Making Every Move Count’.

 

His Excellency Matar Al Nuaimi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, said: “Over the four days, we have taken big steps forward in building a healthier society by hearing from global and regional experts on the importance of health and wellbeing and methods on what can be implemented at all levels to ensure people are living healthy lifestyles going forward.

“The Congress provided great insight with each session and workshop being hugely valuable with a lot of learnings which reflected positively on the members of the community and the attendees alike. Additionally, the set of research papers, scientific workshops and community activities helped convey the theme of the conference - "Every step counts".

He added: “We aspire to share our learning from the Congress to all vital sectors in the country such as health, political, tourism, economic, sports and other sectors in order to achieve an integrated public health system that contributes effectively to supporting physical activity in the community.”

 

“We were fortunate to host the Congress at the same time when the World Health Organisation released its report on physical activity around the world. This contributed significantly to clarify the global situation, highlighting the efforts of the organisation and the International Society of Physical Activity who are working towards promoting physical activity while exchanging ideas to find sustainable solutions.”

Prof. Jasper Schipperijn, President of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health, said: “I would like to express my gratitude to the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre for hosting an incredible ISPAH Congress. Throughout the four days, there was a wide range of discussions on different topics related to health and physical activity which were heard in the  presence of local, regional and global experts and this bodes well not just for today’s generation but also for the future as these conversations can help drive change and inspire people.

“A key part of all ISPAH Congresses are physical activities and this year attendees were not short of options with a variety of enjoyable classes being held. This signifies how fundamental health and exercise is for the Abu Dhabi Government which continues rolling out new initiatives for people to be active.”

 

The programme featured a combination of interactive workshops, symposia, keynote speeches, parallel sessions, which were led by local, regional and global experts to help drive impactful conversations, and fitness activities.

The Congress also saw the end of the ‘One Billion Steps Challenge’ which aimed to encourage individuals to collectively walk one billion steps by the time the event finishes. During the six weeks, a total of 1 billion steps were taken by more than 8000 individuals from UAE communities and visitors including those who attended the Congress. Winners were awarded and the steps the challenge goal was achieved and the collective steps reached the one billion stps.

The Challenge was part of ADPHC’s on-going efforts to promote physical activity and aligned with the Government’s drive to foster a healthier lifestyle. 

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