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Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2019 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



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67 billion kms later

21 Feb 2024

As today marks the commencement of my 72nd orbit of the sun, I figured I'd bring people up to date on a few matters of a personal nature.

For the record, this means I've traveled almost 67 billion km during that time, simply by virtue of streaking around that orbital path at a speed of about 107,000 km/h.

Regular readers will know that I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease a few years back and that since then I've been doing everything I can to manage the symptoms and slow the progression of things -- with quite some success I might add.

I have read and digested countless pages of medical studies and research into PD as well as exploring (and largely dismissing) a whole lot of "alternative" therapies.

After a number of years I have discovered things that work for me but fully acknowledge that they may not work for everyone. So, if you're interested, I'll bring you up to speed.

First and foremost, exercise is the single most powerful mitigation strategy I have been able to employ.

On first being diagnosed, I asked my doctor whether exercise would help and he didn't think it would be much use.

However... I did discover a very positive link between exercise and my feeling of wellbeing so I decided to explore this option.

I started resistance training (albeit not through anything as formal as a gym membership or training program) and dramatically increased the amount of walking I was doing.

In the months and years that followed I've lost a significant amount of fat (that can't be a bad thing) and gained a noticeable amount of muscle. My once-puny arms went from about 355mm to 395mm when measured around the bicep and I've had to go up a size in shirts.

I can now do three sets of 15 dips on the bars with an additional 25Kg in a backpack and I'm managing 10 pull-ups with "chest to bar". Pushups? Ha... I can easily do 40 perfect-form pushups without a pause.

Now that it's summer I'm walking between 10 and 20Km every day and feel great, albeit a little shagged at the end of those 20Km days.

According to research that appears to confirm my own observations, the endorphins released by exercise also promote the production of dopamine in the brain and that's the thing that Parkinson's suffers are deficient in.

Having done about as much as I can in the area of physical mitigation, I've been turning my mind to ways in which I can keep my brain and my hands active. "Use it or lose it" is very much the case and I want to keep using for as long as I can.

Studies indicate that those who are constantly using their brains and their bodies to fairly high levels are far less likely to suffer from dementia and having PD already predisposes you to that evil mind-sapping malady so the extra effort would seem to be well worth it in my case.

To this end, for my birthday, I've treated myself to an electronic piano keyboard (of the cheapest variety). I've never had any kind of musical aptitude (despite qualifying for a violin scholarship when at primary school) so learning to play this will be a pretty significant challenge.

I also received a lock-picking kit as a gift.

This is another fantastic way to keep my fine motor skills (or what's left of them) in use and to learn something interesting and new. It might also help when I finally do suffer the effects of dementia and can no longer remember where I put my front door keys :-)

Life is what you make it, or so they say. Unfortunately mother nature tends to dictate the boundaries but so long as I can keep banging my head against those limits I'll remain happy with my lot.

I've got the first 71 years under my belt, now to have a go at the second 71.

As I have said many times, "I plan to live forever or die trying" and that's a plan which simply can't fail, either way.

Carpe Diem folks!

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