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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 host Anthony Effinger is an award-winning health journalist who is fascinated with neuroscience and the workings of the brain. He won 1st Place in the 2006 Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, from the Association of Health Care Journalists, for Playing the Odds, a piece on the various strategies used to treat prostate cancer.

Last updated: November 18th, 2021