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

A Rick Hansen Secondary School student died in hospital after suffering a medical incident in class on Monday. (File photo)
Abbotsford student dies after medical incident in class

Rick Hansen Secondary School offering additional counselling for students who require it

Stock photo
$93,000 in COVID-19 emergency support available to Abbotsford charities

Applications now open for grants through community foundation

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

The Rotary Club of Chilliwack Book Sale is moves from the Chilliwack Mall to allow for physical distancing. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress file)
Rotary Book Sale moves from Chilliwack Mall to Heritage Park

The hugely-popular book sale is going ahead Oct. 25-31 with pandemic protocols in place

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of possibly decades-old airplane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of UBC geoscientists discovered the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

Officers with the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team were at a White Rock home Tuesday (Oct. 20) to assist Vancouver Police Department with execution of a search warrant. (Contributed photo)
ERT, VPD response to White Rock home connected to homicide: police

Search underway in the 15800-block of Prospect Crescent

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

Most Read