30 Days of Parkinson’s: I Found Exercise to Be the Best Medicine

30 Days of Parkinson’s: I Found Exercise to Be the Best Medicine
Ken Salter
Photos courtesy of Ken Salter

Day 3 of 30

This is Ken Salter’s story:

It has been more than 12 years since, at the age of 46, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I have found exercise to be the best medicine.

A year or two after my diagnosis, I began cycling between 60 and 80 miles per week. I also worked out at the gym in group exercise classes five or six days for a total of about 15 hours of exercise per week. As a result, I suffered virtually no disease progression for eight years. 

After moving from Los Angeles to an oceanfront home in San Clemente, I stopped cycling and replaced that activity with daily walks on the beach. I found that my disease began to rapidly progress.

About nine months ago, I took up surfing and am proud to say that, despite my disease progression, I am able to stand up on a surfboard and ride waves. I now surf five days per week. I have also restarted a cycling regimen and am optimistic that my disease progression will slow. 

I take pride in learning to surf with Parkinson’s. It is both a way of saying “F*** you” to the disease and a recognition that Parkinson’s will, eventually, take this away, so I had better do it now. 

Ken Salter

An unexpected benefit of Parkinson’s was an awakening of artistic abilities — a well-documented side effect. An engineer, by profession and personality, I built a machine that interactively generates psychedelic fractal patterns. This machine was displayed at the Exploratorium, in San Francisco, and at various galleries in the Los Angeles area.

Parkinson’s News Today’s 30 Days of Parkinson’s campaign will publish one story per day for Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofPAR, or go here to see the full series. 

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