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International physical activity market to be worth more than US$1.1 trillion by 2023

International physical activity market to be worth more than US$1.1 trillion by 2023
October 15, 2019

The global physical activity market, identified by the Global Wellness Institute as consisting of six-sectors - fitness, sport and active recreation, mindful movement, equipment, apparel/footwear and technology markets - is worth US$828 billion and is set to be worth more than US$1.1 trillion a year by 2023.

The Global Wellness Institute's first-ever research report - Move To Be Well: The Global Economy of Physical Activity - identified that in 2018, the fitness/mind-body market was worth US$595 billion, and this new research broadens the scope of that segment to the ‘physical activity economy’, which it evaluates as being worth US$828.2 billion globally each year.

With this sum including ‘sport’ and ‘active recreation’, fitness, and ‘mindful movement’, core segments - along with the supporting markets of equipment and supplies, apparel and footwear, and technology - sees the overall global wellness jump to be worth USUS$4.5 trillion global market.

In GWI’s decade of wellness industry research, this is the most data-packed study to date. The 180-page report goes in-depth on the consumer spend within all six markets (at global, regional and national levels); participation rates for 150 nations; the big emerging trends and business opportunities across countries; and market growth projections - while providing deep insight into public and private sector initiatives that can help bring more movement to all.

Commenting on the findings, Ophelia Yeung, GWI Senior Researcher and report co-author, explained “this new global data stream is meant to encourage business leaders and policymakers to see physical activity as a comprehensive sector, and one that’s critical in supporting lifestyles that are crucial to good health.

“Yes, physical activity has become a massive US$828 billion commercial segment, but the conundrum is that sedentary lives, obesity and chronic disease are all exploding right alongside the fitness market’s explosive growth.”

Katherine Johnston, GWI Senior Researcher and co-author, added “when people think ‘fitness industry’ they think gyms, boutique studios, yoga and fit-tech like wearables, but there are so many ways we can get enough exercise to stay healthy - from playing sports to dancing to biking to work. And there are huge opportunities for businesses to get more people active - beyond affluent urbanites/suburbanites, the young and the already-healthy.”

Recreational Physical Activity Markets

Sport & Active Recreation: US$230.1 billion
Fitness & Gym: US$108.6 billion
Mindful Movement: US$29.1 billion 
Total: US$367.7 billion (- 44% of market)

Supporting Segments
Apparel & Footwear: US$333 billion
Equipment & Supplies: US$109 billion
Technology: US$26 billion
Total: US$465.9 billion (- 56% of market) 

This data represents the direct consumer spend for each category and doesn’t include the vast expenditures made by governments/the public sector. GWI estimates that just 35% of the world population regularly participates in recreational physical activities.

The Regional Picture: Market Size & Spend/Participant

North America: US$282.7 billion - US$1,345
Asia-Pacific: US$240.4 billion - US$176
Europe: US$225 billion - US$528
Latin-America/Caribbean: US$42.2 billion - US$176
Middle East-North Africa: US$22.6 billion - US$181
Sub-Saharan Africa: US$15.3 billion - US$45 

90% of the world’s spending on recreational physical activities takes place in North America, Asia and Europe. Globally, spending averages US$306 per participant per year: US$136 on activities and US$172 on equipment, apparel/footwear and technology. That number may seem low, but this study captures a much broader range of physical activities than the US$200/month elite gym membership or US$35 spinning class out of reach for most of the world. Per participant expenditures are very high in North America (US$1,345) and Europe (US$528) while significantly lower in the rest of the world.

The USA and China are by far the world’s largest national consumer markets for recreational physical activity, together accounting for 45% of global expenditures.

Highest Recreational Physical Activity Participation Rates = Happiest Nations
Market size and the highest rates of recreational physical activity participation don’t often correlate, and the report looks at what percentage of the population of 150 nations regularly take part in sports and active recreation, fitness or mindful movement. Australia and Taiwan lead the world with 84% recreational physical activity participation rates. And when you compare the happiest nations from the 2019 World Happiness Report to the countries with the highest rates for recreational physical activity, there is very striking overlap, 14 nations make both top-20 lists, with Nordic countries such as Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Finland and Denmark all ranking in the top 10 for ‘happiest’ and most physically active. 

1. Sport & Active Recreation: US$230 billion

The sport and active recreation category generates two-thirds of all recreational physical activity spending because these activities are the most diverse, accessible, affordable and prevalent across every region and population group. 33% of the world’s population regularly engages in sport and active recreation, spending US$90/annually on average. The top five nations for participation are 1) Taiwan 2) Norway 3) New Zealand 4) Australia, and 5) Iceland - all seeing 75% or higher participation rates.

2. Fitness: US$108.6 billion 
The fitness industry is fast and furious in its growth and devising new approaches, whether indoor spinning, HIIT or CrossFit. The GWI estimates that 3.7% of the world’s population are members of gyms or fitness studios, take independent fitness classes regularly, or work out in public facilities or on their own, spending US$384 per participant yearly.

Within the wider fitness market, 190 million people spend money on memberships/training at commercial gyms and studios (258,000 locations across 211 countries), generating US$83 billion in annual expenditures. Another 58 million participate in fitness classes at (26,000+) public and non-profit venues that cost much less or nothing.

28 million people subscribe to on-demand and streaming fitness services online or via apps. 

North America is the #1 fitness market (US$40.5 billion and a 29% participation rate), followed by Europe (US$33.8 billion market with a significantly lower participation rate of 9.2%).

3. Mindful Movement: US$29 billion
In our frenetically paced, stressful, sleepless and chronic-pain-plagued world, the demand for slower, mindful movement - which includes yoga, Pilates, tai chi, qigong, stretch, barre, Gyrotonic, etc. - is skyrocketing. Of the world’s population, 3.8% now regularly participates in mindful movement, spending on average US$101/year. While the market is now concentrated in wealthier countries, practices are spreading fast throughout the world.

Global Participants & Market Size

Yoga: 165 million - US$16.9 billion
Tai Chi & Qigong: 94.7 million - US$5.4 billion
Pilates, Barre & other modalities: 28.9 million - US$6.7 billion 

The US is by far the largest mindful movement market in terms of participation rate (17.7%) and expenditures (US$10.4 billion), followed by China (US$5.8 billion), Japan (US$1.9 billion), Russia (US$1.3 billion) and Germany (US$1.2 billion). Other countries with high participation rates include Australia, Canada, Denmark and New Zealand (all over 10%). (Note: The meditation market isn’t included in this study, as it’s not movement, but will be analysed in a 2020 GWI study on the mental wellness sector.)

Apparel & Footwear: US$333 billion

Within this market, US$198.2 billion is spent on apparel and US$134.6 billion on footwear. North America is by far the largest market, followed by Asia-Pacific and Europe: These regions make up 87% of the market, while the US comprises over one-third.

Equipment & Supplies: US$109 Billion 
For equipment and supplies related to physical activity (sporting goods and fitness training equipment), North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific make up 94% of all spending, and the US and China together comprise 44% of the market.

Fitness Technology: US$26 Billion 
Technologies that make exercise more fun, affordable, personalized, portable, social, gamified and trackable are seeing an extraordinary uptake by consumers all over the world - even in countries that haven’t had developed gym/fitness offerings. Wearables and trackers (US$14.7 billion), streaming and on-demand fitness (US$6.1 billion), and apps (US$2.4 billion) are the three biggest fit-tech segments. 

Asia-Pacific is the world’s #1 market (US$10.8 billion) because all across the region, consumers are wild for the latest fitness tech, wearables and trackers. North America ranks second, at US$8.6 billion. The US (US$8.1 billion), China (US$6.6 billion), and India (US$1.8 billion) are the three national leaders, accounting for over half of the physical activity tech market. 

The Future: US$1.1 trillion+ Market by 2023
The physical activity economy will grow 6.6% annually from 2018–2023, to surpass US$1.1 trillion. Asia-Pacific will overtake North America as the largest market, accounting for 40% of all global growth through 2023. China and India together will drive nearly one-third of growth, while the US will account for one-quarter.

Growth 2018 to 2023 (US Billions) + (Annual Growth Rate)

Asia-Pacific: US$240 to US$373.5 (9.2%)
North America: US$283 to US$366 (5.3%)
Europe: US$225 to US$288 (5.1%)
Latin America-Caribbean: US$42 to US$57 (6%)
Middle East-North Africa: US$22.6 to US$33 (7.8%)
Sub-Saharan Africa: US$15 to US$23 (8.2%) 
World Total: US$828 Billion to US$1.14 Trillion (6.6%)

Mindful movement will be the fastest-growing sector (12.4% annually), jumping from a US$29 billion market in 2018 to US$52 billion by 2023. Technology will be the second-fastest-growing market (8.6% annually), expanding from US$26.3 billion in 2018 to US$39.8 billion by 2023.

Click here to access the full report.

Main image courtesy of Healthworks Fitness Centres.

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