Bob Browning, 79, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s five years ago. Photo: Tyler Harper

VIDEO: 79-year-old B.C. man fights Parkinson’s with boxing

Bob Browning on sparring with the disease

Jesse Pineiro needed to take a breath between exercises.

The Nelson Boxing Club coach gestured to his student, a 79-year-old man who had gingerly taken a seat nearby, and said, “You’re getting fitter, I’m getting worse.”

“I’ll give you some of my pills,” quipped Bob Browning.

Browning has been training at the gym, twice a week for about three months. Five years ago soreness in his arm led to Parkinson’s, which is a neurodegenerative disease that affects movement. What that’s meant for Browning is stiff muscles, poor balance and a hoarse voice.

“It’s a sneaky disease,” he said. “You can have it for 10 years and not know it. It kind of sneaks up on you real slow.”

He’s not a boxing fan — his interest began and ended with Muhammad Ali, who also suffered from Parkinson’s. But, after reading online that the sport could help restore movement in people with Parkinson’s, Browning showed up on Pineiro’s doorstep.

“I’m not so much into the boxing. It’s the exercises that I’m after,” said Browning.

A 2011 paper published in Physical Therapy showed boxing training can benefit people living with Parkinson’s, but Pineiro hadn’t previously had experience working with the disease. While with Team B.C. in Salmon Arm, Pineiro consulted with coach Peggy Maerz, who trains groups of people suffering from Parkinson’s.

“We’re not really training boxing, we’re training Parkinson’s,” said Pineiro, who said the disease is forcing Browning’s movements and balance to fold in. The exercises, therefore, are focused on getting Browning to open up with exaggerated motions in his hands and feet while standing tall.

“If we repeat it over and over and over again, the big motions that (Browning) doesn’t do in his everyday life or he does less and less, we’re hoping to turn back the clock a little on Parkinson’s.”

On this day, Pineiro and Browning began their hour-long workout by passing a soccer ball to get Browning moving his legs. Pineiro also had Browning move clockwise around a square while throwing punches, and used traditional boxing equipment like a speed bag to stimulate Browning’s reaction time.

Browning hopes all this work pays off in little improvements to his daily life with the disease.

“It’s something you can live with and you can last a long time,” he said. “Michael J. Fox has lasted a long time. He got it when he was 29. … It’s something you can tolerate but it’s a pain in the neck.”

At one point, Pineiro pulls out a mat and asks Browning to try five pushups.

“Twenty years ago I could have done it,” says Browning, to which Pineiro replies, “This thing’s a time machine.”

Browning completes two pushups. The next time he visits, the pair agree, he’ll do three.



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Bob Browning, seen here training with Jesse Pineiro, is using boxing exercises to help him live with Parkinson’s disease. Photo: Tyler Harper

Just Posted

N. Cowichan, Duncan considering community “gateway”

Feature would be at the southwest corner of Beverly Street and the Trans Canada Highway

Cowichan Capitals earn first win in shutout style

Team effort helps Jack Grant blank Bulldogs

Seed harvest and planting event at Chase Woods

“This event is a fantastic opportunity to contribute to the radical restoration of local wetlands”

Duncan denies emergency shelter for women on Cairnsmore Street

Will look at a mobile shelter for women instead

Rob Douglas reveals 5-plank re-election campaign in bid for North Cowichan council seat

North Cowichan is making significant progress on a number of fronts.

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

Coming up in Cowichan: Arts, charity and health events heading to Valley

Free fitness, self-defence for women begins this month Warmland Women’s Support Services… Continue reading

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

A B.C. society helps to reforest Crown land after wildfires

Forest Enhancement Society of BC focuses on wildfire mitigation and the reforestation

Most Read