You can’t do too much exercise in later life, research by Cambridge University suggests.
The study of 15,000 Britons aged 40 to 79 found that active men and women who increased their fitness levels halved the risk of early death.
The research found that if people followed Government guidance to carry out 150 minutes of exercise a week, they could cut mortality risks by almost one quarter, compared with couch potatoes.
This can be achieved by around 20 minutes exercise daily, or 30 minutes five times a week.
But the best results of all were seen among those who already active for an average of around
42 minutes a day – who managed around 20 minutes more.
Such participants cut the risk of early death by 42 per cent, the study found .
Activity included office work and walking, as well as leisure time activity such as cycling or sport.
The study, published in The BMJ, found individuals could experience “substantial” benefits – regardless of how much exercise they had done previously.
The researchers studied 14,599 men and women, aged 40 to 79 years old, who were assessed between 1993 and 1997 and followed until 2016.
Higher physical activity levels and increases in physical activity over time were both linked with a longer life, the study found.
People who were inactive at the start of the study, and gradually met guidelines of 150 minutes per week (20 minutes a day) of moderate-intensity physical activity over the next five years, were at a 24 per cent lower risk of death, compared with those who remained inactive.
Those who went from 300 minutes to 450 minutes exercise a week saw the greatest boost – with a 42 per cent fall in mortality rates.