We recently heard about a study which indicated that exercise improves people's memory. Now, a new set of guidelines published by the American Academy of Neurology suggests that bi-weekly exercise sessions may also help lessen the effects of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

A condition commonly associated with aging, MCI isn't as severe as dementia, although there is strong evidence that the one can lead to the other. People with mild cognitive impairment are generally still able to look after themselves and go about their daily duties unimpeded, but they may have difficulty completing complex tasks or understanding information.

More than 6 percent of people in their 60s have MCI, and that figure jumps to over 37 percent for people aged 85 or older.

The authors reviewed multiple studies that had already been conducted, for their report. Although no long-term studies had been conducted concerning the relationship between exercise and MCI, six-month studies indicated that two workout sessions a week can improve cognitive function in people with the condition.

According to lead author Dr. Ronald Petersen (of the Mayo Clinic), a total of about 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week ought to be sufficient. The level of exertion should be such that people work up a bit of a sweat, although it doesn't have to be so rigorous that they can't carry on a conversation.

"We need not look at aging as a passive process; we can do something about the course of our aging," he says. "So if I'm destined to become cognitively impaired at age 72, I can exercise and push that back to 75 or 78. That's a big deal."

A report on the new guidelines was published this week in the journal Neurology.