Maria Shriver is on the move. Quite literally.
The TV journalist is on a mission to educate South Floridians about Alzheimer’s disease and the connection between the brain and body.
Shriver will be at Equinox on Brickell Avenue Sunday morning for a three-hour panel and exercise class called Move for Minds. Registration is still open for the event, starting at 10 a.m. and benefiting the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement.
“We are trying to raise money for research to try to answer the question why women are disproportionately affected by this disease,” said the NBC special anchor whose late father Sargent Shriver was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003 (he died in 2011 at age 95). “We are also looking at how fitness, diet and stress plays a part.”
As for her own way of staying mentally aware?
“I eat a much more plant-based diet these days,” says the ex-wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger. “I started meditating, doing brain games and minimizing my stress when possible.”
Sugar is tricky.
“I’ve always had a sweet tooth,” admits the 61-year-old activist with a laugh. “I’m trying to get rid of it the best I can. I ask for help. I tell my daughter [Katherine Schwarzenegger], ‘If you see me eating something bad, stop me.’ I’m more aware now.”
Shriver also wants to educate the community that Alzheimer’s, affecting 5.4 million Americans, is not just a senior issue.
“You think that it only happens to people in their 80s,” says the former first lady of California, “but there are those in the prime of their lives who can’t believe it is happening to them.”
While there are no solid answers as to what causes the mentally debilitating illness, researchers have found that keeping your brain and body active certainly can’t hurt.
“You need to take care of your brain and treat it like a muscle as you would treat a bicep or a tricep,” says Shriver, who won two Emmys as co-executive producer for “The Alzheimer’s Project,” a 2009 HBO documentary. “You are responsible for its strengthening.”
She calls the disease, marked by increased memory loss, a “biomedical crisis” that affects not just patients but their caregivers as well.
“I want anyone who attends our event to walk out of there saying, ‘Wow. I didn’t know that.’”
Also available at Equinox will be coloring books Shriver helped develop with neurologists, psychologists and nursing-home residents. After the class, she’ll hang out with her brother, Miami-based Best Buddies International founder Anthony Shriver and his family.
“We always seem to end up at Joe’s Stone Crab,” she says.