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Adoption of Healthy Lifestyles Among Emiratis Research Paper

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Updated: May 26th, 2022

Introduction

The need to adopt a healthy lifestyle is not only a buzz phrase but also a necessity for many urban dwellers. The rising numbers of rural-urban migration in many nations around the world have occasioned this trend as people search for jobs and a better life for their families (Rice & Hancock, 2016). The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has witnessed similar displacements of populations over the last four decades (Molotch & Ponzini, 2019).

Furthermore, many people who live in the UAE’s major cities have come from other countries and are living or working in urban centers as expatriates (Asher, 2016). Relative to their contribution to the country’s development, there are concerns about the impact of rapid urbanization on health outcomes. On this basis, sporting activities have been touted as a catalyst for improving physical fitness and maintaining good health (Bell, 2018). Consequently, many citizens engage in various sports events to fulfil their health and entertainment goals.

The adoption of sports events as part of the modern Emirati lifestyle comes from the popularity of traditional games, such as football, cricket, and tennis among sections of the population. At a community level, several programs and initiatives, such as the Dubai Fitness Challenge, have allowed residents to participate in outdoor sporting events of their choice (Bell, 2018). Although there is a consensus regarding the importance of healthy living in the UAE, there is limited understanding regarding its relationship with the rise of sports activities in the country.

Problem Statement

Adopting a healthy lifestyle prevents people from developing non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. Physical fitness and sports activities are important elements of nurturing such a lifestyle but they are not the only basis for being healthy because health is a function of both mental and physical fitness. In this regard, healthy lifestyle has been linked to positive body imagery and self-esteem.

Although several programs have been developed to increase the awareness of Emiratis about the impact of their lifestyle choices on health (Sadaqat, 2018; Parris, 2016), there is limited understanding regarding the extent to which such initiatives have provoked behavioral change. Failing to understand the link between physical fitness and societal wellbeing undermines the quest to adopt sustainable development programs from which future generations should benefit.

Rationale for the Study

Lifestyle habits have a strong effect on people’s health outcomes. Hence, there is a need to promote prevention measures as a tool to reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases and improve people’s overall wellbeing. To this end, studies have highlighted the need to promote wholesome wellbeing by maintaining an active lifestyle amid growing concerns about the impact of urbanization on health (Parris, 2016). On this basis, health agencies and government bodies have come up with initiatives and programs to sensitize people about the need to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle (Oliffe et al., 2017).

Particularly, this statement is true in the UAE where harsh weather conditions discourage people from going outdoors. Subject to these factors, it is important to understand the impact of sports in promoting the adoption of a healthy lifestyle in the UAE. This is a first step towards promoting sustainable development, which is a key objective of the UAE government as it embarks on solidifying most of the economic gains made in the past few decades.

Research Objectives

This study aims to understand how an increase in Sports Activities in the UAE has contributed to the adoption of healthy lifestyles among Emiratis and the impact of the process on future generations. This overarching aim will be supported by three key objectives listed below:

  1. To find out the relationship between an increase in sports activities and the adoption of healthy nutritional habits among Emiratis
  2. To describe the relationship between an increase in sports activities and hospital admissions in the UAE
  3. To investigate the relationship between an increase in sports activities and subscriptions to gym membership among Emiratis

Hypothesis

Based on the aforementioned research objectives, the following hypotheses will guide the research.

  1. Hypothesis 1 (H1): The increase in sports activities among Emiratis has had a positive effect on the adoption of healthy nutritional habits in the UAE
  2. Hypothesis 2 (H2): The increase in sports activities among Emiratis has reduced hospital admission rates in the UAE
  3. Hypothesis 3 (H3): The increase in sports activities among Emiratis has had a positive effect on gym membership rates among Emiratis

Definition of Terms

  • Healthy Lifestyle – The adoption of health-promoting behaviors
  • Health-consciousness – Awareness of the need to maintain a healthy lifestyle

Summary

Based on the limited understanding of the impact of sports activities on the adoption of a healthy lifestyle in the UAE, this study will explain the efficacy of existing health promotion programs. The investigation will be linked to the increased awareness of the relationship between people’s lifestyle choices and health outcomes. The findings of this paper will help to accelerate the adoption of a sustainable living model for future generations in the UAE.

Literature Review

Researchers have studied the impact of sports activities on the adoption of positive lifestyle choices with varying results. Relative to this aim, some of them have drawn attention to factors that make people adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as childhood beliefs and socioeconomic conditions.

For example, a study by Mollborn and Lawrence (2018) suggested that families, peer groups, and teachers influenced how well people adopted healthy lifestyle behaviors in their adult years. In this regard, it is suggested that the adoption of healthy lifestyle choices is subject to multidimensional and dynamic forces that are traceable to childhood years.

Relative to the above insights, some researchers have chosen a different approach to explain the adoption of positive health behaviors by investigating the adoption of healthy behaviors from a socioeconomic perspective. For example, Nakai et al. (2019) conducted a Japanese-based study to understand health-promoting behaviors among middle-aged and older expatriates. The researchers found that the expatriates had adopted more health-promoting behaviors and lifestyle choices compared to their home counterparts (Nakai et al., 2019). This finding reveals that expatriates were more likely to embrace health-promoting behaviors compared to local populations.

Some studies have taken a sports angle towards the promotion of positive lifestyle behaviors. For example, Kokko et al. (2016) obtained evidence from six case studies from five countries regarding the impact of health-promoting sports clubs (HPSC) on community wellbeing. They found that national sports organizations have made significant progress in health promotion through local sponsorships (Kokko et al., 2016).

In this regard, the findings of the study suggest that there is a need to expand the capacity of sports organizations to further promote positive health behaviors in the community. Relative to this assertion, Pérez-Escamilla (2018) contends that such collaborations should be fostered within a public-private partnership model. The goal is to provide a holistic understanding of the relationship between sports and good health.

Lastly, research studies have highlighted differences in factors that could make certain populations adopt health-promoting behaviors compared to others. Relative to this view, Sharp et al. (2018) posit that people in wealthy countries tend to adopt unhealthy lifestyle habits compared to their counterparts in developing countries. However, the researchers also contend that health-promoting programs need to be gender-specific to make them effective (Sharp et al., 2018).

Overall, this literature review demonstrates that researchers have highlighted different factors involved in the adoption of health-promoting behaviors. While most of them support increased investments in developing stronger sensitization messages, there is limited understanding of the effects of sports activities on the adoption of positive lifestyle behaviors among non-western countries, such as the UAE. This gap in research underpins this study.

Methodology

The pieces of information obtained from the investigation will be quantitative because they are founded on measurable aspects of healthy lifestyle choices – gym enrolment, positive dietary changes, and reduced cases of hospital admissions. These variables were selected for review because they have a significant impact on people’s health (Abalo et al., 2018).

The structured nature of quantitative data will allow the researcher to obtain organized data that will simplify the analysis process. Within the quantitative framework, numbers will be developed using the 5-point Likert scale and information relating to education levels, income, and dietary choices classified into five groups of analysis.

As part of quantitative reasoning, informants will be asked to state whether they have been admitted to a medical facility within the three years under review, or not. Similarly, they will be required to state whether they had enrolled for a gym membership within the same period. Lastly, they will state whether their sporting ventures have forced them to change their dietary choices, or not. These quantitative questions are directly linked to the research objectives, which focus on the three areas of lifestyle change.

Participants

Participants will be Emiratis who live in Dubai. Seventy-two respondents will be drawn from the representative sample using simple random sampling. There will be no gender-based criterion for recruiting them but they must be above 18 years of age and have actively participated in sports within the past three years. The simple random sampling strategy was selected as the main data collection technique because it eliminates bias and improves the quality of information obtained by a researcher (Kim et al., 2018). Therefore, it will help to improve the integrity of the generated information.

Research Design

The case study approach will be used as the main research design. It is often adopted when researchers use the findings obtained from a small sample of people to generalize the behaviors of a larger demographic (Kim et al., 2018). The researcher will use the case study model to address the research issues because it is difficult to carry out a national study for all Emiratis due to logistical and feasibility constraints.

Data Collection

Data will be collected using an online questionnaire that will be emailed to all participants. All informants will be telephoned as a follow-up measure to ensure a high response rate. This virtual data collection strategy will be adopted because it allows respondents to answer questions in a relaxed, comfortable, and convenient environment – their homes. The questionnaire will be divided into two parts. In the first section, informants will be asked to give demographic information relating to their gender, income, and educational levels.

Data Analysis

Data will be analyzed using the statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) software. The descriptive analysis technique will be used to investigate the relationship between the independent variable (sports activities) and dependent variables (dietary changes, gym membership, and reduced hospital admissions).

It is expected that the independent variable will be positively correlated with the dependent variables. These findings could infer that the increase of sporting activities in the UAE has made the residents more active. The SPSS software will be used because it provides a focused and sophisticated analysis of research data (Coe et al., 2017). This is why it has been successfully used to conduct several social science investigations.

Implications of Study

The findings of this study will be indicative of larger health patterns and behaviors in the UAE as more cities become urbanized. Therefore, deductions about future health outcomes could be made from the findings. Insights that will be gathered from the review may also affect the future design of health programs and sporting activities, which are aimed at increasing the awareness of Emiratis regarding lifestyle diseases. Therefore, the evidence gathered from the investigation has the potential to spur the next phase of widespread behavioral changes that will see more Emiratis make positive life choices about their health and wellbeing.

Limitations of Study

Based on the case study nature of the research design, it is important to interpret its findings within the confines of the geographical distribution and demographics of the sample population used. In other words, the information published in this document should be used cautiously, subject to the risks of generalizing the findings of a small population to a larger group of people.

Lastly, the findings of this study are limited to explaining the impact of sports activities on Emiratis who have engaged in some form of outdoor activity within the last three years (2017-2019). Therefore, the views presented in this analysis may not be reflective of people who participated in sports outside of the three years mentioned above.

Results

Demographic Data

According to table 1 below, the respondents’ demographic information was obtained by asking questions regarding gender, income, and education qualifications. Most of the respondents were female because the mean for gender was 1.54, which is closer to the value “2,” represented the female group, whereas “1” represented the male gender.

Table 1. Demographic findings (Source: Developed by Author).

Descriptive Statistics
N Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation
What is gender 72 1 5 1.54 .649
What is Your Income? 72 1 5 1.92 1.055
What is your education qualification 72 1 5 2.10 1.302
Valid N (listwise) 72

The mean for income level was 1.92, meaning that most of the respondents were within the $45,000 – $75,000 income bracket, which was linked to this cluster of income. Lastly, a mean of 2.10 for education qualification means that most of the respondents had attained a high school education and above.

Relationship between Sports Activities, Dietary Patterns, Gym Memberships, and Hospital Admissions

Part of the research investigations involved understanding the correlation between sports activities, dietary patterns, gym memberships, and hospital admissions. According to table 2 below, there was a neutral relationship between sports activities and dietary changes. This outcome is based on the mean of 3.40 associated with variable 1. However, variable two and three findings, showed that there was a strong positive correlation between sports activities and an increase in gym memberships and fewer cases of hospital admissions. This statement is based on the means of 1.76 and 1.96, for variables one (gym membership) and two (hospital admissions), respectively.

Table 2. Relationship between sports activities, dietary changes, gym membership and hospital admissions (Source: Developed by Author)

Descriptive Statistics
N Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation
1. 72 1 5 3.40 1.134
2. 72 1 5 1.76 .813
3. 72 1 5 1.96 .879
Valid N (listwise) 72

Broadly, the findings highlighted above showed that there was a positive correlation between increased sports activities and gym membership enrolments. Furthermore, there was a decline in hospital admissions during the same period of review. Alternatively, there was a neutral relationship between sports activities and dietary changes.

Correlation between Diet and Demographic Variables

According to table 3 below, the significance level for variable 1 (0.570), which is dietary change, is more than the baseline significance level of 0.05. This statistic means that the demographic characteristics of the participants could have influenced their views.

Table 3. Influence of demographic factors on dietary choices (Source: Developed by Author)

ANOVAa
Model Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig.
1 Regression 2.646 3 .882 .676 .570b
Residual 88.674 68 1.304
Total 91.319 71
a. Dependent Variable: 1.
b. Predictors: (Constant), What is your education qualification, What is gender, What is your Income?
Coefficientsa
Model Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t Sig.
B Std. Error Beta
1 (Constant) 3.342 .453 7.375 .000
What is gender .206 .211 .118 .975 .333
What is your Income? -.152 .134 -.141 -1.134 .261
What is your education qualification .016 .108 .018 .147 .883
a. Dependent Variable: 1.

Correlation between Income and Demographic Variables

According to table 4 below, the significance level for variable 2 (0.600), which is gym membership is more than the baseline significance level of 0.05. This means that the demographic characteristics of the participants could have influenced the results as well.

Table 4. Influence of demographic factors on gym memberships (Source: Developed by Author)

ANOVAa
Model Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig.
1 Regression 1.265 3 .422 .627 .600b
Residual 45.721 68 .672
Total 46.986 71
a. Dependent Variable: 2.
b. Predictors: (Constant), What is your education qualification, What is gender, What is your Income?
Coefficientsa
Model Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t Sig.
B Std. Error Beta
1 (Constant) 2.097 .325 6.443 .000
What is gender -.112 .152 -.089 -.739 .463
What is your Income? .020 .096 .026 .210 .834
What is your education qualification -.095 .078 -.151 -1.217 .228
a. Dependent Variable: 2.

Correlation between Gym Membership and Demographic Variables

According to table 5 below, the significance level for variable 3 (0.760), which is hospital admissions was higher than the baseline significance level of 0.05. This means that the demographic characteristics of the participants could have influenced the results.

Table 5. Influence of demographic factors on dietary choices (Source: Developed by Author)

ANOVAa
Model Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig.
1 Regression .931 3 .310 .391 .760b
Residual 53.944 68 .793
Total 54.875 71
a. Dependent Variable: 3.
b. Predictors: (Constant), What is your education qualification, What is gender, What is your Income?
Coefficientsa
Model Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t Sig.
B Std. Error Beta
1 (Constant) 1.869 .353 5.287 .000
What is gender -.074 .165 -.055 -.451 .654
What is your Income? .033 .104 .039 .313 .755
What is your education qualification .068 .084 .100 .800 .427
a. Dependent Variable: 3.

Conclusion

This review has been designed to understand the impact of sports activities on the adoption of healthy lifestyles among Emiratis and to estimate its impact on future generations. The findings highlighted above suggest that H1 was rejected because the increase in sports activities among Emiratis had a neutral, as opposed to a positive, effect on the adoption of healthy nutritional habits in the UAE.

However, H2 and H3, which suggested that the increase in sports activities among Emiratis reduced hospital admission rates and had a positive effect on the subscription to gym membership among Emiratis were accepted. These findings suggest that Emiratis are aware of the health impact of their lifestyle choices and are taking proactive measures to improve their wellbeing.

Relative to this assertion, it can be deduced that the uptake of sports activities in the UAE has led to an increase in gym enrolment and fewer cases of hospital admissions. These measures are largely indicative of a population that is slowly adopting positive lifestyle behaviors to improve their wellbeing.

However, health programs and initiatives aimed at promoting further behavioral change should focus on developing campaigns that are geared towards improving nutritional choices, as this was the weakest area of lifestyle change observed from the data. Overall, the findings highlighted in this paper suggest that an increase in sporting activities has largely had a positive impact on the adoption of healthy lifestyle behaviors and this is a positive contribution to safeguarding future generations of the UAE.

References

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