Pedometer tests reveal who’s taking it all their stride

Dubai, 23 August 2009 … Dubai residents are walking just half as much as they should to maintain a healthy lifestyle, with one in 20 admitting they rarely take a stroll at all, says a new study by Limitless, the global real estate master developer. 

People in the emirate take an average of 5,506 steps a day instead of the recommended 10,000.  While Dubai’s most active walkers cover almost 7,900 steps daily on average, five per cent of residents claim they haven’t walked anywhere in the last week, according to the research, which will help Limitless cater to people’s needs when designing projects, with the results reflected in the company’s master plans.

The study, in March 2009, questioned 625 people – from a range of ethnic backgrounds, locations and income brackets – about their walking and transport usage patterns, and used pedometers to track the walking habits of 188 participants over a seven day period.

Nearly half (46 per cent) of those who took the Limitless ‘ped tests’ were found to be active walkers, covering at least 5,000 steps a day by consciously walking for better health, to lose weight or to avoid parking problems.  One in five (19 per cent) was a passive walker, sub-consciously doing under 3,000 strides as part of their daily office or home routine. The remainder took between 3,000 and 5,000 steps.

Saeed Ahmed Saeed, CEO of Limitless, said: “Physical inactivity can cost economies billions of dollars, as it places enormous strain on health services and lost working days through sick leave.  Walkable communities with carefully planned infrastructure contribute to a more sustainable society by boosting the economy, improving social lives and reducing harmful emission from cars.

 “Limitless aims to promote social interaction and wellbeing by designing sustainable, walkable communities around the people who will live and work in them.  For example, our Downtown Jebel Ali project in Dubai includes public open spaces, shaded areas and affordable, environmentally-friendly transport alternatives to the car.”
Feet first
Asians and Westerners walk the most, at 6687 and 6135 paces a day respectively, according to the study. Residents of Bur Dubai walk more than people in any other location (6416); and 45 to 60 year olds cover more ground than any other age group, taking 8128 steps daily – almost 3,000 more than the average.

 Residents on lower incomes outpace higher earners: people paid less than AED15,000 a month walk 31 per cent further than those who earn AED25,000 or more. 

Transport trends
Cars outweigh any other form of transport in Dubai, though the Dubai Metro should reduce car dependency, the research found. Residents drive on 24 days each month on average, and 80 per cent of people questioned said they had travelled by car in the last seven days. By contrast, 42 per cent had used taxis; 20 per cent RTA buses; 14 per cent company-provided transport, 8 per cent boat and 6 per cent bicycle. 

Expats are also driving more since arriving in Dubai: nearly half of Westerners and three quarters of expat Arabs say they use the car more and walk less as a result. 
Home ground
People in Bur Dubai are strides ahead of those in other areas of the city, covering more than 6,416 steps daily. Closely behind are Ghusais residents (5983); followed by Deira (5295); and Sheikh Zayed Road, including Jumeirah (5159). Residents in New Dubai walk the least: just 4,000 steps daily, relying instead much more on the car.

Why walk?
All ethnic groups cite improving health, losing weight, breathing fresh air and boosting energy as main reasons for walking, but almost a third  of Asians and nearly a quarter of Westerners walk as an actual means of transport.

Both of these groups also walk to avoid parking problems (28 and 24 per cent respectively), while one in five Asians (19 per cent) walks to the bus stop, largely because they have no driving licence and rely on public transport.

Nine out of 10 residents would walk more if there were shaded streets on which to keep cool, and almost the same number (88 per cent) would take more strolls if streets had adjacent parks.

Marching through the mall, training on the treadmill
After local neighbourhoods, shopping malls are the main destination for walks in Dubai. Almost all Emiratis (99 per cent), nearly nine out of 10 expat Arabs (87 per cent), three quarters of Westerners and over two thirds of Asians walk in malls. The average visit lasts just over an hour. 

Beaches and Dubai Creek are also popular walking venues for Emiratis (95 per cent) and Arabs (95 per cent), but less so among Asians (54 per cent) and Westerners (44 per cent). Parks are also high on the list for Arabs.

 Walking on the treadmill is most popular among Westerners, with almost a third (31 per cent) regularly stepping up their exercise routine in the gym, on an average of 21 days each month.  Treadmills are used by just over a quarter of Asians (28 per cent), a fifth of Emiratis (20 per cent) and a sixth of expat Arabs (15 per cent).

 Limitless is keen to hear people’s views on walking in Dubai. Comments can be emailed to


Media enquiries: Rebecca Rees on +971 4 435 7956 (
Note to editors:  The research was carried out for Limitless by AMRB in Dubai. See overleaf for examples of walks in Dubai and case studies on research participants.

The following walks in Dubai were taken by a 36 year old male, of average build and fitness, as part of the research:

Gold Souk to Deira Old Souk (Arba Street) 1,502 15 mins
Safa Park (perimeter) 4,175 35 mins
Jumeirah Beach Residence (end to end) 3,988 30 mins
Burjuman to Dubai Museum 2,153 15 mins

Case studies

Nathalie, Westerner, Jumeirah. She covers an average 11,076 steps a day, around 10 per cent more than the daily recommended average of 10,000. 
On the ped test: “It made me conscious of the need to take 10,000 steps a day to maintain good health. I would walk further if there were more pathways.”

Mohammad, Emirati, Jumeirah. He walks an average 1,687 steps a day.
On the ped test: “It motivated me to walk more. I will definitely try to walk more now I know that 10,000 steps is the recommended amount, but busy schedules often get in the way.”

Majed, Arab, Al Ghusais. He takes around 1,000 steps daily.
On the ped test: “I need to travel long distances, so usually use my car. I know I should walk more, but I do other exercise, such as swimming, regularly.

Iqbal, Asian, Deira. He walks 7991 steps a day, and is better off financially since taking part in the research.
On the ped test: I walked to a large supermarket instead of the grocery store near by house to find out how many steps it would take. When I got there, I found I could buy the same goods for less money than at my regular shop.

About Limitless

Limitless, a Dubai World company, is a global, integrated real estate master developer, delivering distinctive, sustainable and life-enhancing developments that are designed around people.  Our master planning of large-scale, balanced, mixed-use communities and waterfront developments aim to drive innovation in urban design, architecture and engineering.