Sport and exercise is exploding in China with a cataclysmic shift in sporting interest. By 2020, the number of regular exercisers will increase to 435 million and, by 2025, will increase to 500 million, from a base of 360 million in 2015. As a further testament, marathons are growing from just 22 in 2011 to a whopping 1,102 in 2017. How has this happened?

Health consciousness and fitness in China has taken a central role largely because of changing socio-economic conditions and increasing sophistications. As people increasingly seek work-life balance, sport has become the attraction to maintain a positive spirit and longevity. Activities like running and badminton are most popular, with more than half of people quoting both as exercises in the past year.

Sports, especially running, offer an accessible outlet to join the game, get healthy and socialize at the same time. A deeper underlying reason for people picking up exercise activity, however, exists: to peacock and to show off. China continues to shift through economic high gear and with it, unique cultural tensions have developed along the way, none more so than the need to be individual against the backdrop of societal acceptance.