Figures published by Sport England, which is part of the Department of Health, show that more than a third of adults surveyed do less than 30 minutes of exercise a week.
The Active Lives Survey 2015-16 shows that 31.5% of adults in South Shields do less than half an hour of physical activity a week.
Public health officials say the figures are worrying but stress the council has invested in modern leisure facilities, and the local authority provides a wide variety of activities encouraging people to get exercise for free.
A spokeswoman for South Tyneside Council said: “The figures are worrying and show that there is still work to be done to help people choose a more healthy lifestyle. South Tyneside Council actively encourages healthy choices.
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“We have invested in state of the art leisure facilities and seen visitor numbers increase in recent years.
“There are plenty of things residents can do to get more active across the borough, from of the wealth of activities the council provides to taking advantage of our beautiful coastline, green spaces and parks where people can stretch their legs, get their heart rate up and start to feel some of the benefits that exercise brings - exercise doesn’t have to cost money.
“Promoting small changes in eating habits and lifestyles among families can make a huge difference in our efforts to increase physical activity.”
Just over 13% of South Shields people quizzed described themselves as fairly active - doing between 30 minutes and 149 minutes of exercise a week.
And 55.4% of adults said they do more than 150 minutes.
Tim Fitches, of walking charity Living Streets, said: “By making small changes to our daily routines – skipping a stop on public transport, walking to the local shops or parking further away – we can reduce the risk of significant health issues including heart disease, cancer, depression and type 2 diabetes as well as getting fitter and happier in the process.”