Study: By 2023 APAC's physical activity market is set to dominate at US$373.5 billion

Asia is set to become the world’s growth leader for the physical activity economy and fitness technology markets according to a research study by the New Global Wellness Institute.

The “Move to Be Well: The Global Economy of Physical Activity” study found that the “physical activity economy” - which includes fitness, sports & active recreation, mindful movement, equipment, apparel/footwear, and related technology - is now a US$828 billion world market, that’s set to grow to over US$1.1 trillion by 2023. 

Valued at an immense US$240 billion annually (roughly 30% of the global market), Asia-Pacific still sits behind the U.S as number two in the physical activity market rankings. Yet, the study’s results point towards Asia taking over as a growth leader from 2018-2023, with China and India together driving nearly a third of all growth. The market is predicted to expand by 9.2% annually, reaching US$373.3 billion by 2023, leaving Asia-Pacific responsible for a staggering 40% of all global market growth.

Four of the top ten recreational physical activity markets in the world are already in Asia; China, Japan, South Korea and Australia. The US and China are by far the world’s largest consumer markets with a combined accounting of  45%of all global expenditures.

The report also goes into further depth on Asian consumer spend, participation rates for Asian nations, the emerging trends and business opportunities within all six markets, participation rates for Asian nations, the emerging trends and business opportunities across Asia—while providing insight into the public and private sector initiatives that can help bring more movement to populations across the region.

China’s physical activity sector is experiencing explosive recent growth with support from the government, a proliferation of gyms and fitness studios in Tier 1 cities and widespread adoption of fitness apps and other online platforms. Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore have highly developed, competitive physical activity markets. Governments in these markets are also active in promoting physical activity through public education campaigns. Southeast Asian countries, such as Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and Indonesia, have small physical activity markets, lower levels of participation, and the lowest fitness industry penetration rates across Asia.

When it comes to rates of actual participation in recreational physical activity, six Asian markets - Taiwan, New Zealand, Mongolia, South Korea, Japan and Singapore - rank among the top 15 worldwide.

The report has also taken into account the various forms physical activities can take and ranked their market worth within each region.

Globally, the sports and active recreation market is the largest sector, worth US$230 billion. This was judged by the study to be because activities are the most accessible, affordable. and prevalent across every region and population group. Asia-Pacific’s market is worth US$83 billion annually, with a 30% participation rate and a US$66 average participant spend per year.

Fitness and gyms come second with a US$109 billion fitness industry worldwide and the average global participant spending $384 yearly on fitness and gyms. APAC’s fitness market is worth US$22.7 billion annually (with a US$494 yearly spend per participant). But at 19% the region is falling well below the global average of recreational spending activity, which stands at 30%. This suggests there is some room to grow

Of course, one of the biggest growth industries for wellness over the last decade has been activities classed under the banner of “mindful movement”, such as yoga, tai chi, qigong, and pilates.  The global mindful movement market is now worth US$29 billion, with US$16.9 billion for yoga, US$5.4 billion for tai chi and qigong, and US$6.7 billion for Pilates, barre and other similar exercises.  As most of these exercises originated from Asia, it’s not too surprising that Asia is a hotspot for this sector, with it valued at US$10.9 billion, with a 4.5% participation rate and an annual spend/participant of US$58. China and Japan sit at second and third place globally.

Wearables are in and fitness tech is worth $26 billion, seeing extraordinary consumer adoption worldwide. The US (US$8.1 billion), China (US$6.6 billion), and India (US$1.8 billion) are the world’s national leaders, accounting for over half of the physical activity tech market. However, as a region, Asia-Pacific is the world’s top market at US$10.8 billion.

The global physical activity apparel and footwear market is worth a humongous US$333 billion, with North America as the king at US$123 billion, followed by Asia-Pacific as a whole at US$87.5 billion.

Lastly, equipment and supplies that support physical activity round off the pack but still at a very respectable US$109 billion in worth as a global segment. And Asia is the second-largest market at US$27.6 billion. The US and China together comprise 44% of the market.