Why Maria Shriver Wants You To MOVE

Maria Shriver Photo Credit: Kwaku Alston

Maria Shriver wants you to MOVE—both your body and your mind—and has partnered up with Equinox to prove it. The Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist and producer, seven-time “New York Times” best-selling author, NBC News Special Anchor and the founder of The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement has just announced Move for Minds 2019, which will take place on Saturday, November 2, 2019 at Equinox Sports Club Los Angeles. This marks the first year that the annual Move for Minds initiative will be a full one-day affair anchored in one city.

Now in its fifth year, Move for Minds remains a fundraising initiative that educates the public about the latest in Alzheimer’s research and advocates lifestyle changes people can make today to support better brain health long-term. Funds raised through Move for Minds are used to accelerate women-based Alzheimer’s research. Move for Minds 2019 will include two half-day sessions of fun, fitness, and information geared to transform mind, body, and spirit. Each session will culminate in a powerful conversation featuring Shriver and leaders in brain health, neuroscience and women’s health. Along with many of the panelists, other leading Alzheimer’s prevention and women’s doctors will be available for more intimate conversations with attendees during the newly added “Doctors Hours” following the conversation. Those joining include doctors from UCLA and St. Johns Hospital, as well as Marie Pasinski MD from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Sara Hill, Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin.

In another Move for Minds first, there will be a choice of five different workout classes, each taught by Equinox master instructors. Confirmed instructors include Christa DiPaolo (boxing), Natalie Yco (HIIT), Ilyse Baker (cardio dance), Steven Goldsmith (cycling) and Clio Manuelian (yoga). Each class will also have a neuroscientist or leading expert highlighting the unique elements of each activity for mind and body. Mind and spirit centered activities include meditation, sound baths, and mind sharpening exercises. In addition to meeting top doctors, attendees will have the opportunity to mingle with best selling authors and other leaders in health, wellness, clean beauty, while also exploring cutting edge health and wellness brands. This year’s expanded ‘expo’ area will feature a self-care Zen Den (massage, ear seeding, and reflexology), a large bookstore, brain healthy food samples, the latest in health tech, and other fun activations.

Alzheimer’s experts confirmed for the panels include: Roberta Brinton PhD, Jessica Caldwell PhD, Josh Grill PhD, Richard Isaacson MD, Lisa Mosconi PhD, Dean Ornish MD, Drew Ramsey MD, and Wendy Suzuki PhD. Celebrity attendees will include Whitney Port, Louise Roe, Seth Rogen & Lauren Miller Rogen, Christina Schwarzenegger, Christopher Schwarzenegger, Katherine Schwarzenegger, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Hannah Skvarla, Light Watkins, Rumer Willis and Rita Wilson; Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former First Lady Laura Bush, California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and Los Angeles First Lady Amy Elaine Wakeland have also joined the organization as honorary chairs.

“Women of all ages, across generations, are impacted by the Alzheimer’s crisis and only together, will we create the solution,” says Shriver. “Each of us must become our own health advocate, and now more than ever, we have the tools, education and resources to take a proactive approach, for ourselves and those around us.”

Here, she discusses her haute event, why Move for Minds is so important and how she created such an all-star line-up of attendees and event chairs to join her in her mental health movement.

Maria ShriverPhoto Credit: Move For Minds
What drives you to want to find a cure for Alzheimer’s?

My father, Sargent Shriver, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003. He was one of the most brilliant people I knew, but I watched the devastation of this disease rob him of his memories, his intellect, his ability to communicate, even the knowledge of what a fork was, what my name was, never mind his own. So I began my Alzheimer’s journey, and the more I learned along the way, the more committed I became to doing something for all the other families reeling from the impact of this disease. Today there are 5.8 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and another 18 million people caring for them. It’s literally a mind-blowing disease that destroys minds, bodies, families, finances. Why wouldn’t I feel driven to help find a cure? My belief is everyone should be engaged in this effort. In our aging America, no one is going to escape the long arm of Alzheimer’s. Let’s all get on board to help move the needle on Alzheimer’s research.

What is the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, what does it stand for, and how does the organization itself help finding a cure?

The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, or WAM, is the non-profit I founded to help raise awareness that 2 out of 3 brains the develop Alzheimer’s belong to women. So are 2 out of 3 caregivers in this nation. I’ve been a strong women’s advocate all my life, so once I recognized that Alzheimer’s impacts women disproportionately, it was natural for me to focus my efforts on the largest group impacted by the disease. Right now there is no cure or treatment, so our focus at WAM today is on raising awareness about women’s risks for the disease, on educating people –women and men– about lifestyle interventions that can help delay or possibly even prevent Alzheimer’s, and on raising money for research. To date, we’ve funded 18 research projects at leading institutions around the country, all focused on trying to understand why women’s brains are at such high risk. I truly believe that if we can help unlock that mystery, we will discover answers that will benefit us all.

What is Move for Minds, and what can attendees expect from going to the event?

Move for Minds is WAM’s annual event to raise money for women-based Alzheimer’s research. We’d heard from many of our supporters that they wanted an alternative way to raise money rather than attending another gala dinner, walk or a run. So we designed an experience to transform mind, body and spirit. There’s an extremely fun and energizing workout component, followed by a conversation I conduct with some of the world’s leading experts in Alzheimer’s prevention. It’s exciting to see that people today as young as in their 20’s recognize that caring for their brain health now will help protect it with age. Move for Minds is designed to give people of all ages the tools to do so. Participants get to hear from top exercise specialists, nutritionists, meditation experts and people in the caregiving world They get to meet and mingle with the biggest names in neuroscience, ask advice from top doctors in women’s and brain health, get books signed by health and wellness authors, even chefs, and experience some of the latest in health and wellness products and technology. Our goal is to educate, engage and empower people with the best information and practices so they can protect the future of their minds.

Maria Shriver
Maria Shriver, Natalya Neidhart, Niki Leondakis and Lauren Miller Rogen attend Equinox’s Move For Minds event

Photo Credit: Move For Minds

Why was Equinox the right partner for this?

Every Alzheimer’s doctor or expert I spoke with kept telling me the same thing: Exercise, exercise, exercise! So we decided to hold an event that incorporated exercise in a fun way, while also providing cutting edge information and a way to connect with others, which by the way, is an important element in keeping your brain healthy. That advice about exercise made me think of Equinox, a company committed to people leading a high performance life. When I approached them with the idea of Move for Minds, they instantly understood the connection between a high performance life and a highly performing brain. I’m very grateful they said yes 5 years ago as they became our founding partner. They’ve been supportive partners in this mission ever since.

What is your physical fitness routine?

I am on the road a lot, so I try to take my routine with me as much as I can. I mix it up between some aerobic activity like a treadmill, which I can find in almost every hotel, and some weight work.

How do you keep your mind agile as well?

I stay engaged. I work. I am curious. I read. I listen. I learn. I start my day by meditating. I end it by reflecting with gratitude on my day, my faith, my large circle of friends and my precious family. I’ve learned that slowing down and focusing on what’s right and good about life is better for my mind than racing around and stressing out about all the things that aren’t perfect.

Maria ShriverPhoto Credit: BFA

Have your children been supportive of the movement. How are they supporting it, if so? How are they supporting, if so?

All my children have grown up as grandchildren of Alzheimer’s. so they all know the importance of caring for their health. They have always been supportive of my efforts to raise awareness about this issue. It’s why they are all coming to join me at Move for Minds on November 2 and bringing a lot of their friends. I love that Move for Minds is increasingly an inter-generational event. After all, when one member of the family has Alzheimer’s, every member of the family does as well. And I’m inspired by how many 20 and 30 year olds I meet who are embracing the concept of caring for their brains and not just their bodies. It’s inspiring.

How did you select the women and men taking place in this conference? The honorary chairs? Have you met everyone taking part? Who are you most excited to meet? To see?

Most of the people coming to Move for Minds are leaders in their fields—be it the latest research in Alzheimer’s prevention, understanding the role of hormones on women’s health and emotions, eating the best diet to protect your body and your brain, or how to reduce stress and calm the mind. Many like Dean Ornish are best selling authors. Many are lesser known, but rock stars in the world of science. I’m as excited to see Lisa Mosconi, a neuroscientist who writes on brain food, as I am to see my good friend, Giada DeLaurentiis who knows how to cook it. In addition to the experts, I’m honored that my friends, many of whom have been impacted by Alzheimer’s, are lending their voices and support, including Debbie Allen, Cindy Crawford, Rita Wilson, Sophia Vergara, Sean Hayes, Nattie Neidhardt, and so many others. It’s going to be a great day.

What new initiatives are you planning for 2019/2020 on the Alzheimer’s front?

2020 marks the 10th year since the Alzheimer’s Association and I published The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s, in which it was first publicly reported that the disease disproportionately impacts women. Today I am honored that California Governor Newsom has appointed me to lead a state-wide task force looking into the disproportionate impact of Alzheimer’s not only on women, but also on communities of color, which we now also recognize as being at higher risk for developing the disease. There are clearly still plenty of questions to ask in 2020, and I don’t plan to slow down in my work t help answer them until we find a cure or treatment. I am honored to be delivering a cutting edge report to the Governor in 2020 that addresses the needs of an aging California and an aging nation.