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

Artist, history buff named Surrey Civic Treasures for 2018

Roxanne Charles and Jim Foulkes to be recognized at Oct. 2 event

Surrey woman’s ‘tell-all’ book aims to help those struggling with domestic violence

Second book details abusive marriage, how people failed her

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner bids farewell in tearful State of City Address

Outgoing mayor announces Director of Housing, looks back at Surrey’s evolution, and pokes fun at her ‘media missteps’

ZYTARUK: Hepner, to her credit, rose to the occasion

She could have used her last address to make political digs, pitches and slights. She did not.

VIDEO: Story surrounding new playground at Surrey hospital a real ‘tear-jerker’

Dad began planning after his son had surgery in Surrey and he saw too many sad faces

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

Canada’s goal is to play in a medal game at World Cup in Spain

The 2014 women’s world basketball championships were a coming out party for Canada.

World Anti-Doping Agency reinstates Russia

There was no mention of Russia publicly accepting a state-sponsored conspiracy to help its athletes win Olympic medals by doping.

Burnaby pedestrian in hospital after being hit crossing busy street

Driver remained on scene, is speaking to RCMP

Nanaimo’s Tilray pot stock continues rising, firm now worth more than $21 billion US

The B.C. company’s shares have risen more than 1,000 % since its initial public offering in July

Fresh-faced Flames fend off Canucks 4-1

Vancouver drops second straight NHL exhibition contest

VIDEO: B.C. deer struggles with life-preserver caught in antlers

Campbell River resident captures entangled deer on camera

Most Read