• The share of adults walking at least five times per week varies – from 49% in Wandsworth to 21% in Middlesbrough. For cycling, it varies from 29% in Cambridge to as little as 0.1% in Burnley.

This chart shows the share of adults who walk and cycle, for any purpose, by frequency and local authority.

Increasing physical activity and minimising the time spent sitting down helps to maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and depression. The NHS recommends that adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, each week.

On average, relatively few people in England engage in regular walking and cycling. In 2018/19:

  • 16% of adults cycled once per month, but only 3% cycled five times per week or more
  • 80% of adults walked once per month, but only 44% walked three times per week. A total of 33% of adults walked five times per week or more.

Regular walking or cycling rates vary significantly in different parts of the country.

  • The share of adults cycling at least five times per week was highest in Cambridge (29%), Oxford (19%), Hackney (11%), York (10%) and Southwark (10%). The proportion was as low as 0.1% in Burnley, 0.7% in Cannock Chase and 0.4% in Croydon.
  • The share of adults walking at least five times per week was highest in the London borough’s of Wandsworth and Hammersmith and Fulham (both at 49%) and lowest in Middlesbrough (21%) and Barking and Dagenham (23%).

To a certain degree, these differences in active travel reflect a difference in the population age structure and urban density. However, some areas, such as Cambridge, have introduced policies to boost active transport use, including dedicated cycling lanes, speed limits and increased car parking charges.

There are considerable differences between local authorities in active transport take-up, with scope for local policy interventions to boost areas with low levels of active transport.

  • The City of London and Isles of Scilly are excluded, due to small sample size.
  • The figures are based on area of residence rather than where people walk or cycle.

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This is part of Evidence hub: What drives health inequalities?

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