Levels of physical activity have declined considerably over recent decades in England, and there is evidence that activity patterns vary across areas. Previous studies of the geography of physical activity have frequently relied on model based synthetic estimates. Using data from a large population survey this study develops a direct measure of recreational physical activity and investigates variations in activity patterns across English Local Authorities. For both sexes the results show a distinct geography of recreational physical activity associated with north/south variations and urban/rural status. The environmental and behavioural factors driving those patterns are still poorly understood. We conclude that the variations observed might reflect recreational opportunities and the socio-cultural context of areas.