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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

District looking for public input on cycling plan

Survey is open to the public until May 25

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Flooding highly unlikely this year throughout Skeena watershed

Region’s snowpack among lowest in the province

Cameras and convoys: Graduation in the age of COVID-19

Schools in Terrace and Kitimat are thinking outside the box to give students a graduation ceremony

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Still a lot of work to do to fully connect regional district

Draft strategy shows dependence on on single fibre optic cable route, poor cellular service on roads

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

Most Read