Break a sweat to boost your brainpower

It's happened to all of us at one time or another.

You're in the middle of telling a friend or loved one an exciting story -- only to have them remind you that you ALREADY told it to them.

There goes your punch line!

As we age, it's not at all uncommon to forget conversations, even recent ones. And you can usually chalk it up to one of those "senior moments."

But if you begin to get absentminded about events... appointments... and other details more and more frequently, it could be a sign of mild cognitive impairment.

It doesn't have a great name, because sometimes it's not so "mild." And it can lead to something more serious.

It's actually a gray area between the "brain burps" of aging -- the ones you don't have to worry about -- and the more severe onset of dementia.

Some docs will throw up their hands in defeat and tell you that there's nothing you can do to stop it.

On the other hand, your doc might prescribe you a drug -- but one that's approved for Alzheimer's (which you don't actually have yet) and comes with risky side effects and few benefits.

But according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology (based on a review of all studies to date), there's something else you can do to put the brakes on cognitive impairment -- and it just so happens to be invigorating for your body AND your brain.

I'm talking about exercise!

Multiple studies have found that exercising at least twice a week won't just improve your memory problems... it may even SLOW DOWN the rate at which your cognitive troubles worsen.

And that's critically important -- because 5 to 10 percent of cases of mild cognitive impairment progress to full-blown dementia over time.

The theory is that exercise gets blood flowing to every nook and cranny of your gray matter AND "beefs up" your brain thickness in key areas -- both of which are known to help preserve your precious memories.

So, instead of driving over to the pharmacy... go take a walk!

"Aerobic" activities that make you break a little sweat, like brisk walking and jogging, are recommended to get that blood a-flowin'.

But previous studies have shown that everything from gentle yoga to lifting weights can put the brakes on cognitive decline.

While even just two workouts each week can boost your brainpower, it's ideal to aim for about 30 minutes of activity, five times a week.

As a bonus, ANY form of exercise can boost your mood... strengthen your heart... and help you shed a few pounds.