Older adults need only walk briskly for 15 minutes a day to cut their risk of dying early, a study has shown.

Although Britain’s NHS recommends two and a half hours of such moderate exercise a week for pensioners, the latest research suggests doing considerably less can still bring health benefits.

Just 15 minutes of exercise a day was found to lower the risk of death by 22 per cent over the 12-year study period.

Adults who met recommended guidelines lowered their chance of dying early by 35 per cent.

“Age is not an excuse to do no exercise,” said Dr David Hupin, a doctor in the department of clinical and exercise physiology, University Hospital of Saint-Etienne, France.

“It is well established that regular physical activity has a better overall effect on health than any medical treatment.”

The study looked at more than 123,000 people for up to 12 years.