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Last Updated: Friday, 8 December 2006, 09:47 GMT
Half of nation do 'no exercise'
Image of a sedentary man
Half the nation do no sport at all
Half the population of England do no sport or active recreation, a poll of more than 350,000 people reveals.

Just one in five adults, mainly young wealthy white men from the south-east, does the recommended 30 minutes of exercise three times a week.

People from the Scilly Isles are among the most active, while those in areas hosting the London Olympics, like Newham, are among the least active.

Ministers and health experts said the Sport England findings were worrying.

Minister for Sport Richard Caborn said the survey showed disappointing levels of participation in sport.

He said: "In the last decade we have invested a record 3 billion of public money in state-of-the-art facilities across England that are both accessible and affordable.

The fittest
Isles of Scilly
Richmond upon Thames
The laziest
Boston, Lincolnshire
Newham, East London
Barking and Dagenham
Based on % doing recommended amount of exercise

"The government can only do so much. Individuals must start to take responsibility for their health and fitness too."

But Don Foster, spokesman for the Liberal Democrats called for fewer statistics and more action.

He said the cost of the survey - 6 million of Lottery players money - was enough to pay for over 100 football pitches or two weeks' gym fees for all of the 360,000 respondents.

Conservative Shadow Minister for Sport, Hugh Robertson called for more Lottery fund investment in sport.

He said: "In 1998, sport received 397m compared to the 264m it receives now and this has played a key part in the disappointing results we see today."

A spokeswoman for the British Heart Foundation said exercise was important for good health, reducing the risk of heart disease.

Walking - 8.1 million
Swimming - 5.6 million
Gym (including exercise bikes and rowing) - 4.7 million
Recreational cycling - 3.2 million
Football - 2.9 million
Jogging/Running - 1.8 million
Golf/pitch and putt/putting - 1.4 million
Badminton - 0.9 million
Tennis - 0.87 million
Aerobics - 0.6 million

The BHF recommends 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week. She said: "We suggest you find a physical activity that suits you and remember that you are never too old to start being active."

A spokesman from the International Obesity Taskforce said: "The evidence shows that it's very difficult to sustain longer term regular exercise. A lot of people with weight problems are put off by the gym culture and the competition in sports.

"We need to encourage general activity - walking and climbing the stairs."

Walking was the most popular activity, the poll found.

24% of men and 18% of women
33% of 16 to 24-year-olds, 25% of 35 to 44-year-olds, 16% of 55 to 64-year-olds and 6% of 75 to 84-year-olds
25% of highest socioeconomic groups and 16% of lowest socioeconomic groups

Over 8 million adults aged 16 and over, 20% of the total, did a recreational walk for at least 30 minutes in the last 4 weeks.

Swimming came second, with 5.6 million participants, followed by exercising in the gym, recreational cycling and then football in fifth place.

Derek Mapp, chairman of Sports England said: "Knowing the scale of the challenge is the first step to putting it right, and it is a wake up call to people everywhere.

Sport England will use the data to gauge which areas in England need more sports facilities.

map of "lazy" england

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