PEOPLE in Huddersfield are turning into couch potatoes.

A new survey on exercise shows only one in five in Kirklees take regular exercise.

And that's below the national average for activity, which recommends 30 minutes of sport or active recreation five times a week.

The survey, by MORI, also revealed that some 45% of people in Kirklees rarely take any form of regular exercise.

The survey was commissioned by Sport England, who wanted to see how the various areas of Yorkshire were shaping up.

The results are not good.

Now, officials hope to use the research to encourage more people to take up regular exercise, including aerobics, jogging, swimming or walking.

David Gent, regional director for Sport England, said: "The Yorkshire Plan for Sport aims to increase participation in sport and active recreation by 4% by 2008.

"This information gives us details of how much sport and activity people are doing, when they are doing it and what they are doing.

"It means money can be invested in physical activity in communities that need it most".

Sports officials in Huddersfield said that ideally people should exercise five times a week for half an hour.

Ian Whitehead, Kirklees Active Leisure's business development manager, said: "When we became a charitable trust three years ago, we considered our prime purpose was to get more people, more active, more often in Kirklees.

"All our profits are ploughed directly back into improving our services and facilities.

"Kirklees Council is committed to investing £10m over five years in upgrading and maintaining our centres and we are investing a further £5m to improve our centres."

He added: "Next month, we begin a £2m improvement programme at Dewsbury Sports Centre. This will enhance the facilities to attract more families and people from ethnic minorities into exercise.

"We are trying to remove any barriers which could prevent participation in group activity.

"We work closely with the NHS primary care trusts to maintain and develop the GP referral scheme Pals.

"We also offer Owls - the over-50s - activity days at most our sports centres and work with schools to provide swimming and sports.

"Reducing obesity - particularly among young people - is another primary objective. We work with our council colleagues to make sure special sessions for youngsters are fun and challenging."

Mr Whitehead added that he could not stress enough how regular exercise could improve your general wellbeing, happiness and physical health.

It can also reduce stress and is a vital part of rehabilitation after illness.