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Live longer with 15 minutes in gym

Exercise really can give you a new lease of life, research suggests. A study found that as little as 15 minutes of physical activity a day can reduce the risk of dying by 14pc and increase lifespan by three years.

More exercise led to further life gains. Every additional 15 minutes of daily exercise further reduced all-cause death rates by 4pc.

This trend continued until a person was exercising for 100 minutes a day, after which no further benefit was seen.

More vigorous activity for shorter periods of time had the same effect as less intense exercise carried out for longer. Exercise was also seen to have a very protective effect against cancer.

People classified as "inactive" had an 11pc higher risk of dying from cancer than those in the "low-volume" activity group. Cancer deaths fell by 1pc for each additional 15 minutes of daily exercise after the first 15 minutes.

The study, published in the online version of The Lancet medical journal, involved more than 400,000 Taiwanese people in a medical screening programme. Participants, who were all aged 20 and above, were placed into one of five categories based on a formula that took into account exercise intensity and duration.

On average those in the "low-volume" group exercised for 92 minutes a week, or 15 minutes per day. Benefits of exercise were said to apply across all age groups, and to those at risk of heart disease.

The researchers, at the National Health Research Institutes in Zhunan, Taiwan, concluded: "Individuals who did a daily average of 15 minutes of moderate exercise had significant health benefits when compared with individuals who were inactive."