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  • Writer's pictureWorld Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry

Adult Physical Inactivity Levels Reach All-time High

Private sector sporting goods and fitness industries call for urgent and coordinated action to address the growing physical inactivity crisis



New data released today (June 26, 2024) by the World Health Organization (WHO) on rising levels of physical inactivity is galvanising sporting goods and fitness giants to team up to address this alarming trend.


  • New data reveals that 31% of adults are inactive and are not meeting the recommended levels of physical activity (just 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week) 

  • If this trend in inactivity continues, global levels of physical inactivity are projected to rise to 35% by 2030 (from 26% in 2010)

  • There is a widening gap in participation based on age and gender; women are less active than men by at least 5 percentage points and after 60 years of age physical inactivity rises rapidly. 

  • New data on adolescents is due later this year, but we already know 81% are not doing enough physical activity to maintain good health.

  • The economic cost of treating health conditions that are preventable by engaging in a more active lifestyle will exceed US$300 billion by 2030


by 2030 nearly 500 million more people are expected to develop health conditions that can be prevented by regular physical activity.  

The biggest sporting goods companies in the world including Adidas, Amer Sports, ANTA, arena, ASICS, Cycleurope, Decathlon, Li-Ning, New Balance, Nike, On, Orbea, Pentland Brands, PUMA, Restube, Shimano, SHRED., Specialized, SRAM, Tecnica Group, Under Armour, Wearable Technologies and Yonex have come together as members of the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) to support this call for urgent action. 


Joining these companies in this call to action are national sporting goods federations from Austria, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Norway, Spain, the UK, USA, Cycling Industries Europe, FESI Europe, and ISPO along with Retail and Health and Fitness Federations, FEDAS Europe, EuropeActive, Health & Fitness Association and ICSSPE.


WFSGI Chair Andy Rubin says, “Tackling the global inactivity crisis requires teamwork. The new adult inactivity data shows that not enough is being done to reverse inactivity.  That’s why, despite being competitors in business, we are coming together to share our expertise on consumer behaviour and engage people in community sports and physical activity. We are all in this business to help people be more active and develop a lifelong passion for sport and activity and the benefits that it brings.”


Emma P. (Mason) Zwiebler, WFSGI CEO goes on to explain how the WFSGI is committed to uniting our industries and facilitating effective partnership-led action to support healthier people and a more active planet.   

“The new WHO data is very worrying from a public health perspective but also from an industry standpoint. Getting the world to move more is a business imperative for the members we represent,” says Zwiebler. “This moment is a huge opportunity to harness the collective power of the sporting goods and health and fitness industries as key solution providers for a healthier, more active planet for all. We are proud to work alongside our WFSGI members, fellow trade associations, and leading CEOs who have come out to support this statement and who share our vision of driving multistakeholder cooperation to deliver meaningful change for global health and business.” 



The new data showing rising levels of physical inactivity among populations worldwide is having direct implications for public health, contributing to the rise in obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which are chronic health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes. 


While global inactivity levels by adults were still estimated at 28%, the WHO had calculated the cost of physical inactivity to exceed US$ 300 billion based on estimates that by 2030 nearly 500 million more people are expected to develop health conditions that can be prevented by regular physical activity.   


Physical inactivity levels in adolescents are above 80% and the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on levels of physical activity among children is not yet known. Without urgent action to reverse this trend, there is a very real risk that children and young people, as they grow older, will become a major health and economic burden on society. 


Treating health conditions that are preventable by engaging in a more active lifestyle will exceed US$300 billion by 2030

How the sporting goods and fitness industry can help tackle the physical inactivity crisis

The private sector sporting goods and fitness industries are making the following commitments which will be enabled through multi-stakeholder collaboration. The industries will:

  1. Raise awareness of the crisis because it is not getting sufficient government or media attention and therefore needs a stronger strategic and coordinated response from the private sector.  

  2. Support people to lead more physically active lives by building on the industries’ expertise of marketing the power of sport and physical activity to the world and channelling its passion, creativity and energy into impactful interventions to reverse physical inactivity trends.

  3. Leverage the power of major sporting events to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity and deliver community-level initiatives targeting inactive people.

  4. Create partnerships within the business community and across sectors to co-create a new era of workplace health, active travel and physical activity initiatives encouraging employees to engage in active, healthy lifestyles.


The sporting goods and fitness industries are already working hard to tackle physical inactivity through targeted community-level interventions. However, we are calling for a more collaborative approach that will deliver greater impact more quickly. 


We are united in our belief that physical activity has multiple benefits, for example, the promotion of active travel has direct benefits for both health and protecting the planet. It is also recognised that quality Physical Education in schools directly benefits young people’s mental health and academic achievement.


Collaborating to drive meaningful change.

The sporting goods and fitness industries are committed to working together, alongside public sector policymakers and the WHO, to address global physical inactivity levels.  As a united voice, we fully support the WHO in its work to implement the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity (GAPPA). The new inactivity data reveals the world is off track to meet the WHO target of a 15% relative reduction in the global prevalence of physical inactivity in adults and adolescents by 2030.  


The undersigned organisations represent the combined sporting goods, retail and health and fitness industries who together have a powerful platform and responsibility to galvanise the global sports industry to find solutions and implement them to help address the growing issue of physical inactivity. 


This joint statement is signed by:


The World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) members

  • adidas  

  • Amer Sports

  • ANTA

  • arena

  • ASICS

  • Cycleurope

  • Decathlon

  • Li-Ning

  • New Balance

  • Nike

  • On

  • Orbea

  • Pentland Brands

  • PUMA

  • Restube

  • Shimano

  • SHRED.

  • Specialized

  • SRAM

  • Tecnica Group

  • Under Armour

  • Wearable Technologies 

  • Yonex


Other Sporting Goods Federations:

  • ISPO

  • FESI (Europe) 

  • SFIA (USA) 

  • Apice (Brazil) 

  • BSI (Germany) 

  • JASPO (Japan) 

  • VSSO (Austria)

  • Norsk Sportsbransjeforening (Norway) 

  • Afydad (Spain) 

  • SGIA (UK)

  • Cycling Industries Europe


Retail Federation:

  • FEDAS (Federation of European Sporting Goods Retail Associations)


Health and Fitness Federations:

  • EuropeActive

  • Health and Fitness Association

  • International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE/CIEPSS)


Supporting quotes from signatories.


Adidas CEO, Björn Gulden – “We all should make sure that as many people as possible around the world can enjoy sports. That’s why, despite being competitors in business, we are teaming up to share our expertise and engage people in community sports and physical activity. Together, we can help people to be more active and develop a healthy lifestyle.”

 

Amer Sports COO, Michael Sorensen – “Our purpose is to elevate the world through sport by inspiring people to lead better, healthier lives. We firmly believe that engaging in physical activity improves the quality of life for everyone, whether it’s competitive trail running, skiing with your family, or simply taking walks to clear your mind after work. Through our global platform, we can inspire people of all ages and abilities to access and discover the joy of sport.”

 

ANTA Group VP, Christina Li – “Sports are immensely important for human physical and mental well-being. We believe that regular exercise not only brings joy but also instils sports spirit such as striving for victory, perseverance, fair competition, solidarity, and cooperation. We are deeply concerned about the rising levels of physical inactivity and are committed to being part of the solution. In response to the World Health Organization’s initiative to encourage more physical activity, we are dedicated to empowering sports enthusiasts through continuous scientific and technological innovation. By providing the best products and fostering exchange and communication with global consumers, we aim to inspire more people to embrace a lifelong commitment to sports. Through our efforts, we strive to fulfil our corporate mission: to bring the transcendent spirit of sports into everyone’s life. Let us join hands to promote the allure of sports worldwide, making it a healthy and uplifting way of life for individuals seeking self-improvement.”

 

Arena CEO, Peter Graschi – “Together with other sports companies, we commit to ensure that the message of raising people’s awareness of sport becomes more and more widespread.  At Arena, our everyday activity is driven by the purpose of improving the quality of life for all by promoting and enabling an active lifestyle in and by the water. We know from many studies that swimming helps on several levels. It is great for the body and mind and is a skill that crosses over into other activities. Swimming is a fantastic way to get active and enjoy the many health and wellness benefits associated with exercising, regardless of your age, ability, or fitness levels. That is why we have supported for many years Swimming federations and clubs: we partner with them from initiatives aimed at attracting more and more people to swimming to the support of the competitive team.”

 

ASICS CEO, Yasuhito Hirota – “At ASICS, we’ve always believed in the positive impact of movement, not just on the body, but also on the mind. We remain committed to supporting more people to move and experience the positive mental benefits of movement. We have done extensive research on the positive impact of movement and will look to continue to share insights to support people to lead more physically active lives. Together, we can help people to be more active and achieve a Sound Mind in a Sound Body.”

 

Cycleurope CEO, Tony Grimaldi – “The trend of decreasing physical activity is deeply concerning and makes the everyday movement offered by cycling increasingly important. E-cycling, which matches the pace of brisk walking, makes cycling accessible to more people. To unleash the potential of cycling, politicians and authorities need to prioritise safe high-capacity cycling infrastructure and design cities for more active mobility.”

 

Decathlon CEO, Barbara Martin Coppola – “Physical inactivity is a major issue for communities right across the globe. Movement can have an incredibly positive impact on people’s well-being, both mentally and physically, even if it’s just a few minutes per day. At Decathlon, we’re huge advocates of helping people to incorporate movement into their daily routine, for the benefit of their individual health, but also for society as a whole. Through our purpose, to Move People Through the Wonders of Sport, our aim is to build a happier, healthier world by making it easier for people to practice the sports they love in ways that suit them.”



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