Physical fitness is an important aspect of overall student development at NYU Abu Dhabi. Guided by the principle that a healthy body supports a strong mind in achieving one's full potential, the Physical Education program provides opportunities for competitive and recreational athletic participation, fitness through exercise classes such as aerobics and Pilates, and lifetime skills in sports such as golf and tennis. Students are required to complete two 7-week Physical Education sessions.

The Athletic Department promotes and enhances a healthy lifestyle by providing qualified coaches and instructors, coordinating the use of athletic facilities, overseeing the intramural program, arranging for recreational opportunities, and providing exercise classes. Students at NYUAD have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of indoor and outdoor fitness activities including popular team sports such as football/soccer, volleyball, and tennis, individual competitions such as road races and triathlons, a choice of water sports such as kayaking and sailing, and athletic leisure activities, such as cycling, hiking, and equestrian events. Many of these activities are offered as 7-week courses during fall and spring semesters, which are listed below.

While the goal is to field at least one externally competitive team per fall, winter, and spring season, the specific sports offered will depend on the interest and ability levels among students in the class. There are also opportunities for individual competition in events.