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Riyadh’s Sports Boulevard to positively impact residents’ fitness culture, survey reveals

JEDDAH: In a survey conducted by Sports Boulevard, the exercise habits and attitudes of Riyadh residents have been unveiled for the first time, providing valuable insights into the city’s fitness landscape.

The Riyadh Sports Index, based on responses from 1,000 residents, sheds light on the enthusiasm for fitness among the capital’s population.

The survey revealed that a significant portion of Riyadh’s residents are actively engaged in physical activity, with 49 percent exercising at least twice a week.

A positive sign for the city’s health, 43 percent express enjoyment in exercise but express a desire to do more. However, the survey highlights that 76 percent feel they still do not engage in enough physical activity, with 46 percent expressing a wish to exercise more frequently.

Several barriers to regular exercise were identified, with respondents citing a lack of time (45 percent), unfavorable weather conditions (39 percent), and the cost of gym memberships (36 percent).

Moreover, 18 percent of those surveyed indicated that easier access to facilities would motivate them to exercise more.

As development progresses on the Sports Boulevard, poised to become the world’s largest urban linear park, spanning over 135 km and connecting Wadi Hanifah to Wadi Al-Sulai, the survey underscored the potential transformative impact on the city’s sports culture.

Over 50 state-of-the-art sporting facilities are set to be created, addressing the current challenges related to accessibility and promoting grassroots sports.

Currently, only 11 percent of respondents live within 1 km of a sports facility, highlighting the need for increased access. The Sports Boulevard aims to revolutionize the city’s landscape, providing safe, green, and shaded pathways for pedestrians, cyclists, athletes, and horse-riders.

This initiative is expected to encourage residents and visitors alike to embrace a better sports routine, fostering a healthier and more active community.

Jayne McGivern, CEO of the Sports Boulevard Foundation, said: “For the first time, this survey shines a light on how the people of Riyadh exercise and play sport, and more importantly, how they want to stay fit, healthy, and connected to each other.

“Our first Riyadh Sports Index perfectly demonstrates how the Sports Boulevard will overcome barriers to exercise and deliver for the city’s residents and visitors, transforming the landscape and people’s lives within it, and welcoming a new era of sports and well-being for all.”

Two residents of Riyadh, eagerly anticipating the completion of the Sports Boulevard, shared their excitement and positive outlook on how the project will impact the city.

Asrar Al-Shumrani, a Riyadh resident who works at Prince Sultan Military Medical City, told Arab News: “The Sports Boulevard is a game-changer for us. With more facilities and accessible spaces, I am excited to incorporate regular exercise into my routine. It’s not just about fitness; it’s about community and well-being.”

Mansour Al-Enazy, another resident, shared his optimism, saying: “I believe the Sports Boulevard will redefine our approach to sports and fitness. The diverse range of facilities will cater to different interests, making it easier for everyone to find an activity they enjoy. This project will undoubtedly elevate Riyadh’s sports culture.”

The survey identified walking (63 percent), running (47 percent), and football (44 percent) as the most popular sporting activities among Riyadh residents. The majority (74 percent) cited improving physical health as their motivation for staying fit, while 53 percent acknowledged the mental health benefits of exercise.

With 36 percent of respondents going to the gym and 24 percent cycling, the city’s diverse fitness interests are evident.

Launched by King Salman in March 2019 and supported by Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, the Sports Boulevard aligns with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals.

As a mega project, it contributes to making Riyadh one of the top 10 cities globally by 2030, emphasizing the importance of health, well-being, and community connectivity in achieving this vision.

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