The ‘haves and have-nots’ in the physical activity economy



New data from the non-profit Global Wellness Institute™ (GWI) reveals that while the US leads overall spend in the $828 billion physical activity market, it ranks 20th in participation.


The study, ‘Move To Be Well: The Global Economy of Physical Activity’, defines the six-sector global physical activity economy as including the fitness, sports & active recreation, mindful movement, equipment, apparel/footwear and technology markets.


GWI researchers state: “The data shows a sharp divide between the ‘haves and have-nots’ in the US – which leads in spending and innovation of the physical activity market worldwide, but ranks just #20 in participation. We estimate that the US makes up one-third of the global market.”


They note that the leading nations in terms of physical activity participation are Australia in first place, followed by Taiwan, Norway and New Zealand.


GWI senior researchers and report co-authors, Ophelia Yeung and Katherine Johnston, noted that the US has much to learn from other countries and cultures when it comes to encouraging daily physical activity (recreational or otherwise) among every demographic and socio-economic level.


“While physical activity is a massive $264.6 billion commercial segment in the US, there is a major disconnect: sedentary lives, obesity and chronic disease are escalating right alongside the fitness market’s explosive growth,” says Yeung.


GWI Chair and CEO, Susie Ellis, adds: “Insights from this report prove how crucial it is for business leaders, policymakers and the wellness industry itself to encourage ongoing, daily participation in physical activity – not just those who can afford it or have easy access to gym memberships and exercise classes. I was disappointed to learn that so much of the explosive success stories we see in the fitness market – from brands like Peloton, SoulCycle and CrossFit – are essentially the sales of more ‘product’ to the same individuals and not introducing more people to fitness.”


To access the GWI’s ‘The ‘Move To Be Well: The Global Economy of Physical Activity’ report click here.

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