Insulin resistance and related metabolic disturbances are major risk factors for the higher T2D risk and associated morbidity and mortality amongst South Asians. The contribution of physical activity to the increased prevalence of insulin resistance and related disturbances amongst South Asians is unknown. We recruited 902 South Asian and European men and women, aged 35-85 years from the ongoing LOLIPOP study. Clinical characterisation comprised standardised questionnaire and measurement of height, weight, waist and hip circumference and blood pressure. Fasting bloods were taken for assessment of glucose, insulin, lipids and HbA1c. Physical activity was quantified using a validated accelerometer, Actigraph GT3X+, worn for 7 days. Univariate and multivariate approaches were used to investigate the relationship between ethnicity, physical activity, insulin resistance and related metabolic disturbances. Total physical activity was ~31% (P = 0.01) lower amongst South Asians compared to Europeans (Mean MET.minutes [SD]: 1505.2  vs. 2050.9 [86.6], P<0.001). After adjusting for age and sex, total physical activity had a negative association with HOMA-IR (B [SE]: -0.18 [0.08], P = 0.04) and fasting glucose levels (B[SE]: -0.11 [0.04], P = 0.02). There was no association between physical activity and other glycemic and lipid parameters. Total physical activity per week contributed towards the differences in insulin resistance and associated metabolic disturbances between South Asians and Europeans. Lower levels of physical activity may contribute to the increased insulin resistance in South Asians compared to Europeans. Our results suggest that lifestyle modification through increased physical activity may help to improve glucose metabolism and reduce the burden of excess T2D and related complications amongst South Asians.