If you’re the sort who enjoys a wager with a small sum riding on it, I’ve got a hot tip on a race between a guy 100 lbs. overweight and one much lighter on his feet,when he manages to stay on them, that is. The heavyweight contestant has a respiratory illness to slow his pace. But his older opponent has PD and is known to tangle his feet and take sudden spills, costing time to get upright again.

Wimagesho are these stalwart, if infirm, would-be athletes competing to better their health through diet and exercisem, to strengthen muscles, increase stamina and reflexes?

My kid brother and I, that’s who. We plan to lurch, stumble, huff and puff off the starting line in early January, rather than New Year’s Day, since there’re usually New Year’s Eve goodies left over. No use rushing into things, with a whole year ahead.
You see the fallacy in that reasoning? You’re a step ahead already.

So let’s clink our cans of Ultra Slimfast then, in celebration. But we’re not just trying to slim and trim off ugly pounds. More importantly, we’re toning up bodies that may be afflicted by disease that’s perhaps no one’s fault, but still our responsibility to combat.

My brother and I treated our health–when we had it– like the weather. We complained about it, but never did much to improve it. We–and that means all of us–can make our personal exercise and fitness regimen as cheap, simple or costly and fancy as we wish. You can shell out $2,500 for gym machinery if you have it to spare, $500 a year for spa membership, or next to nothing if you have a sturdy bath towel and a public park nearby.

Using whatever you can afford–but using it regularly–is key to improving one’s physical and emotional score in battling PD or other diseases of chronic muscular deterioration, Or, just getting and staying in shape for the principle of wellness and vigor.

Boredom, sloth and discouragement are our worst enemies, said onetime pro baseball pitcher Jerry Spradlin in a New Year’s fitness interview.

He retired from the majors in 2006 and segued into career personal training, since at six feet, eight inches and 280 lbs., he had practically lived in gyms and learned the finer points of fitness.

Spradlin suggests busy health clubs, or working out with a regular partner for mutual encouragement, consistent cardiovascular workouts and cutting 500 calories a day from your diet, especially we junk food fanciers. Romy Phillips, a serene, willowy fitness expert who has taught yoga in Japan suggests that discipline as part of any health regimen for its spiritual qualities. This can be a tremendous benefit for those of us dealing with chronic disease and emotional discomfort, as well as dreaming of six-pack abs or a shapely derriere.

Like fancy extras on an $85,000 sports car, these will look terrific, whether or not they do anything to increase your performance. Compared to my decades of experience there are more physical fitness gimmicks, systems and plans on the fitness market today than at any time in history. Some are excellent and then there was the rubber belt I saw at Christmas in a 99-cent store, guaranteed to shrink inches off your waist witn no exercise or dieting.

Such gimmickry is worthless. However at age 13 I bought a 25-cent body building booklet by the late muscleman Joe Bonomo at a Woolworth’s dime store and it worked. Bonomo’s exercises depended on resistance, pitting one set of muscles against a heavy object, or another set of your own muscles. This has been the basic principle of increasing bodily strength since cavemen (who couldn’t read dimestore pamphlets) learned to push boulders and fallen trees out of their path.

Depending on your physical condition and living arrangements it should be possible for you to maintain some form of exercise and physical therapy. Swimming in a fairly shallow pool, dancing or just long walks in a scenic park or along an ocean beach or lake shore are good choices. As therapies go, there aren’t a lot of alternatives for those of us with Parkinson’s Disease.images (1)

But a long walk is free and was finally recognized for its therapeutic value when humans learned languages. Hippocrates, the Greek healer known as the father of medicine proclaimed walking is a gift of the gods for the maintenance of health and vigor. And no prescription is needed.

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