A survey by Sport and Recreation New Zealand shows less than half of the population meets Government guidelines for physical activity.
The survey found 79% of people do at least one form of weekly exercise.
But less than half meet the Government recommendation of 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week: two thirds of New Zealanders walk for fitness and two-fifths garden.
More than one million people swim at least once a year.
However, SPARC says only 12% of people are totally inactive despite a growth of sedentary past-times like video games and a trend towards longer working hours.
SPARC says it will issue a breakdown in coming months showing how people in different regions of the country, exercise.