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(Photo: Blisstree.com via Thinkstock)

By Deborah Dunham for Blisstree.com

We’ve all had those sudden realizations that we’re getting older: We’re chatting with a friend, and suddenly we can’t remember the name of her kids or the street she lived on. “Oh crap, I’m losing my mind,” is far more scary than realizing that you’ve put on five pounds.

As many of us in our 30s and 40s well know, you don’t have to be elderly to experience these sometimes embarrassing and disconcerting moments. We can chalk it up to stress, sleeplessness, distraction, and now, researchers say, a lack of something as simple as walking.

The New York Times reported on three new studies pointing to the mind-enhancing benefits of exercise. And by exercise, they don’t necessarily mean you have to be a marathon runner or Ironman triathlete.

Things like “walking around the block, cooking, gardening, cleaning and that sort of thing,” were said to have measurable improvements in cognitive abilities. In one of those studies, walking had bought women five extra years of “better brainpower.”

But what about running or lifting weights? Keep reading to find out…

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