British experts say a quick blast of activity staves off the ravages of time and makes for a fit and healthy old age.
People aged over 60 in a trial group transformed their lives by cutting blood pressure and improving performance in everyday tasks.
Exercising for 60 seconds twice a week over a month and a half helped physical fitness and lowered their chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
Lead researcher Dr John Babraj from Abertay University in Dundee, said: "Two minutes is all you need. It is quick and easy.
"It doesn't require seven days a week exercise that the current Government guidelines promote. You can do a little where you give your all-out effort for a minute, broken into small intervals. You get big improvements and you don’t need to do it every day, just once or twice a week."
The NHS currently recommends adults aged 65 or older, who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, should try to be active daily and should do at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week
It doesn't require seven days a week
exercise that the current Government
guidelines promote. You can do a little
where you give your all-out effort for
a minute, broken into small intervals"
Dr John Babraj, Abertay University
They should also do muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups such as legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms.
But this latest research has now tested High Intensity Training (HIT) on older people aged 60 to 73 who were divided into two groups, with one acting as a control and the other required to take part in two sessions of exercise a week.
Each session consisted of six-second all-out sprints on an exercise bike with each participant fitted with a heart rate monitor throughout.
The number of sprints in each session was progressively increased over the course of the trial from six to 10 sets of six-second sprints.
A minimum of one minute recovery time was allowed between each sprint, and participants were not allowed to start sprinting again until their heart rate had gone back down to below 120 beats per minute. Dr Babraj, a lecturer in exercise physiology, whose study is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, said: "When it comes to the sprints, you don't have to go at the speed of someone like Usain Bolt.
"As long as you are putting in your maximal effort, whatever speed that happens to be, it will improve your health.
"However, as with any type of exercise, it is important to consult with your doctor before you begin doing HIT in case there are any underlying health issues."
The researchers found the "functional capacity" - the ability of those those doing the HIT to get up off a chair or walk six metres - "significantly improved" by between 15 to 20 per cent.
Dr Baraj said: "This is the difference of, if someone knocks on the door, how quickly you can answer it.
"Being able to walk 50 metres is taking the shopping from the bus stop into the house.
"These all significantly improved which, for older people, is really important.
"We are not saying you need to do exercise every day. A little bit at higher intensity twice a week will see you get significant improvement."
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "There is a really strong body of research that demonstrates the importance of exercise in later life. However it's important to find the right exercise for you and to consult your GP."