Physical activity

The benefits of physical activity are well documented. Physical activity can help reduce the risk of non-communicable or chronic diseases that negatively affect healthy life expectancy, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers. It can also support mental health, through improving mood and reducing stress, while improving energy levels and sleep quality.

The health benefits of being physically active include:

Key findings


Estimates of physical activity levels come from national and local surveys, with the latest nationally published figures from the Sport England Active Lives Adult Survey (2021/22). The Chief Medical Officer’s report (2011) recommends that adults aged 19-64 years undertake 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week; examples of moderate activity include brisk walking, water aerobics, doubles tennis, riding a bike (on level ground or with a few hills), hiking, pushing a lawn mower or skateboarding. 

  • The survey estimates that over two-thirds (67.9%) of the adult population (19+ years) in Lancashire-12 are physically active (meeting the national guidelines of a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week), statistically similar to the England proportion (67.3%). However in Blackburn with Darwen (53.7%) and Blackpool (59.1%) the rates are significantly lower, Blackburn being the 3rd lowest in the country.
  • Preston (63%), Burnley(61.9%), Hyndburn (60.5%) and Pendle (60.1%) are estimated to have a significantly lower proportion of physically active adults compared to England, while Lancaster (76.3%) and Ribble Valley (75.4%) has a significantly higher proportion.
  • Over a fifth (22.5%) of the adult population in Lancashire-12 is physically inactive (adults doing less than 30 minutes of moderate activity per week), similar to England (22.3%). Again Blackburn with Darwen (37.6%) and Blackpool (32.2%) had much higher rates of inactivity, Blackburn being the second worse in England.
  • Pendle (30%), Hyndburn (27.7%) and Burnley (27.6%) has a significantly higher proportion of inactive adults compared to England, and Lancaster (18.3%) and Ribble Valley (17.4%) have significantly lower proportions.
  • Data from 2019/20 show that in Lancashire 11.9% of adults walk for travel at least three days per week (England 15.1%), while 1.6% of adults cycle for travel at least three days per week (England 2.3%). Both Lancashire's proportions are significantly lower than England. 8 districts have significantly lower proportions of adults walking 3 days per week and 3 are significantly lower for cycling. Pendle, South Ribble and Wyre are significantly lower for both.


It is recommended that children aged 5-18 should be engaging in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.

  • The Active Lives Children and Young People Survey completed by Sport England for 2022/23 found that in Lancashire an estimated 44.8% of children were physically active, this is similar to the England proportion of 47%.
  • Chorley (59.7%) and Rossendale (58.7%) are estimated to have significantly higher proportions of physically active children whilst in Burnley (39.8%) and Hyndburn (25.3%) estimates are significantly lower.
  • Blackburn with Darwen (43%) reported a rate of physical activity similar to England whilst in Blackpool (40.5%) the rate reported is considerably lower.

For county and unitary data and further information please see below.

*NHS, 2017

For district data and full functionality of the Public Health England fingertips tool please visit the web page

Page updated April 2024