Dr. Joseph Maroon doesn’t just walk and talk.
The UMPC neurosurgeon, who recently celebrated his 82nd birthday, has been a triathlete for most of his life and a proponent of a healthy lifestyle.
He is a strong advocate of the “healthy body, healthy mind” lifestyle that promotes optimal health and peak performance.
And he adheres to this lifestyle through diet, physical fitness, avoidance of environmental toxins, stress control, and adequate sleep.
“I’ve completed eight Ironman distance triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) and run five triathlon world championship races in Kona, Hawaii,” Maroon said. “The reason I shop is because I’m very aware of the mind-body connection: how the mind can make the body sick (heart attack, ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome), but more importantly how the body can heal the mind.
“Aerobic activity is the best antidepressant and anti-anxiety.”
Maroon is known worldwide for his work in the study of concussions and concussion prevention, as well as for his hypothesis about the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
The Sewickley resident recently won second place in his age class in the triathlon event at the Senior National Games, formerly known as the Senior National Olympics, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
More than 12,000 men and women aged 50 and over competed in 21 sports at the NSG, reputed to be the world’s largest multi-sport event for senior adults. The fundamental objective of the games is to promote the health and well-being of people aged 50 and over through physical fitness, education and sport.
The 2023 Senior National Games will be held in Pittsburgh; Maroon plans to participate. They were also held in Pittsburgh in 2005. Maroon also attended these games.
The UPMC doctor, father of five, has been a neurosurgeon for 39 years. He has participated in more than 90 triathlons.
Maroon played football at Indiana University in Bloomington, coached by Phil Dickens, and was a Scholastic All-American. He held the rushing record at IU, averaging 5.3 yards per carry, until he was broken by Antwann Randel El.
Randel El then played for the Steelers from 2002 to 2005 before signing with Washington as a free agent, then returned to the Steelers in 2010 for a final season in the NFL.
Maroon graduated from Indiana with a BA in 1962 and his MD in 1965.
Since then, he has seen the world.
In addition to traveling to Hawaii, Maroon has competed in triathlons in Canada, New Zealand and Germany. On the “home” front, he raced in Indiana, Delaware, Ohio, and Florida.
Maroon was inducted into the Lou Holtz Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame for athletic achievement and contributions to sports medicine in 1999, alongside Joe Montana, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, John Havilcheck, and Phil Niekro.
“Phil, John and I grew up together in Bridgeport, Ohio,” the UPMC neurosurgeon said, “with a population of 4,300. We all did pretty well.”
Maroon is also a member of the Western Section of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and the National Fitness Hall of Fame in Chicago.
He served as medical director for the Life Free African Freedom Tour in 2014. In this capacity, Maroon, along with his daughter Isabella and a group of amputees, summited Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.
He was a neurosurgical consultant for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 35 years and was the first directly appointed neurosurgeon in the NFL. He is a Professor and Vice Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at UPMC and is the current Medical Director of WWE.
Maroon has covered various health topics in over 700 interviews on local, national and satellite television, radio shows and podcasts. He is frequently cited as an expert source by national media, including The New York Times, USA Today, Associated Press, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, ABC News Nightline, Consumer Report, NewsMax, Cosmopolitan Magazine and Outside Magazine.
And as if he had some spare time, Maroon is also an author. He has published seven books.
“The last was ‘Square One: A Simple Guide to a Balanced Life,’ in which I detail strategies for longevity and how to die young… as late as possible,” he said. “CNN Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta said, ‘This book has already changed my life. “”
To purchase a book, go to josephmaroon.com.
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.