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May 21, 2021

Exercise Your Body to Keep Your Brain Strong | Dr. Sarah McEwen

by Anthony Effinger

The Think Neuro podcast from Pacific Neuroscience Institute takes you into the clinic, operating room and laboratory with doctors and surgeons who are tackling the most challenging brain diseases and disorders. Host: Anthony Effinger

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Episode 16: Show Notes

Dr. Sarah McEwen has wanted to be a brain scientist since she was a kid. At an early age, she realized that exercise made her feel good. Later, she learned why: Physical activity can change the brain because of something called neuroplasticity. The brain isn’t static. It changes and adapts. And that’s one of the most amazing things about an already amazing organ. Strangely enough, doing a Zumba class may strengthen your brain more than six hours of Sudoku. Not only does exercise create new neurons, it also creates new blood vessels to feed them, and it washes away inflammatory compounds called cytokines.

McEwen, a PhD in Cognitive Psychology, studies all the ways exercise contributes to brain health. She created PNI’s FitBrain group exercise program, aimed at protecting participants from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia as they age. It’s potent medicine. In one study, people who were active during midlife were 70 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s in old age than their sedentary counterparts. All of this excites Dr. McEwen, an avid exerciser herself. Listen to this episode to learn more about how you can tone your brain by toning your body.

About Dr. Sarah McEwen

Sarah McEwen PhD

Sarah McEwen, PhD, is a Cognitive Psychologist and Senior Research Scientist at the Pacific Brain Health Center. Her specialty is the study of physical activity and cognitive enhancement interventions to investigate biological, behavioral and health-related outcomes in patients suffering from cognitively debilitating disorders. Dr. McEwen is a graduate of the UCLA Fitness Leadership program and an NSCA-certified personal trainer and experienced behavioral interventionalist.

Check Out More Think Neuro Podcast Episodes

About the Author

Anthony Effinger

Anthony Effinger

Think Neuro's host is Anthony Effinger, an award-winning journalist who is fascinated with neuroscience and the workings of the brain. Anthony spent 24 years at Bloomberg News, where he covered all aspects of finance, with forays into science and health. In 2006, the Association of Health Care Journalists awarded him first prize for Playing the Odds, an in-depth piece on the changing strategies used to treat prostate cancer. These days, he is a staff writer at Willamette Week, a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Last updated: May 19th, 2023