Back in 2015, MAS*H star Alan Alda read an article about Parkinson’s disease in the New York Times. The classic TV icon saw that one of the earliest symptoms patients report was acting out their dreams while they slept. To his dismay, Alda recalled throwing a pillow at his wife just a few days earlier while he dreamt he was throwing a sack of potatoes at an attacker.
Without a second thought, Alan Alda made a doctor’s appointment. The doctor was hesitant to perform a Parkinson’s test, as the actor showed none of the hallmark symptoms. Alda insisted, however, and a few days later, discovered that he did, indeed, have Parkinson’s.
Instead of falling to pieces, the MAS*H star sprung into action, taking steps to improve his health rather than allowing it to diminish. Though Parkinson’s is incurable, it’s possible to delay its progression with proper diet and exercise.
In an interview with AARP Magazine, Alan Alda recounted his reaction the Parkinson’s diagnosis. “I began to exercise,” Alda said. “A lot of people hear they have Parkinson’s and get depressed and panicky and don’t do anything, just hoping it’ll go away. It’s not going to, but you can hold off the worst symptoms.”
“Movement helps: walking, biking, treadmills,” the actor continued. “But also specific things: I move to music a lot. I take boxing lessons from a guy trained in Parkinson’s therapy. I do a full workout specifically designed for this disease. It’s not the end of the world when you get this diagnosis.”
In addition to walking, biking, swimming, and playing tennis, Alan Alda also incorporates more unusual exercises into his routine such as juggling and marching to John Philip Sousa music.
‘M*A*S*H’ Star Alan Alda Shares the Secret to a Positive Attitude
At nearly 90 years old, M*A*S*H star Alan Alda has been through Polio, war, and now Parkinson’s. No matter how hard life gets, however, Alda maintains a positive attitude. His reaction to his Parkinson’s diagnosis is proof of that!
In the interview with AARP, Alda shared the secret to his eternal positivity – and it’s simpler than you might think. “Laugh! Laughter is good,” Alda said. “When you laugh, you’re vulnerable. You’re opening yourself up. You’re not protected. That’s why a lot of executives don’t laugh much, because they think it gives up their strength.”
“But you gain so much through vulnerability,” Alda continued. “You let the other person in, and that brings us all closer. We can’t take ourselves too seriously, even now. A good friend emailed recently and said, ‘Alan, how are you doing? How’s everything?’ I wrote back and said, ‘I’m still alive. If that changes, I’ll let you know.’”