Doing the chores, walking or any other regular activity that raises the heart rate for 30 minutes could help prevent one in 12 of all deaths.

London - Just half an hour of housework a day can cut your risk of premature death by over a quarter, a major study has found.

Doing the chores, walking or any other regular activity that raises the heart rate for 30 minutes could help prevent one in 12 of all deaths.

It could also prevent one in 20 cases of heart disease, the research shows.

The study, the largest of its kind, looked at more than 130 000 people in 17 countries. It found the more active they were, the lower their risk of early death.

Benefits could be gained from any type of regular physical activity – housework, gardening, walking to work or having an active job, as well as sport and gym visits. Experts said the findings, published in The Lancet, showed exercise is "the best medicine at our disposal".

If everyone did 2.5 hours of physical activity a day, 13 percent of deaths and 9.5 percent of heart disease cases could be stopped.

Around a fifth of those in the study did not meet World Health Organisation guidelines of 150 minutes’ exercise a week. But nearly two in five did 150 minutes each day. The researchers recommend trying to build physical activity into a daily lifestyle, such as commuting on foot or by bicycle and staying active at work.