David Palmer shed nearly 70 pounds just by walking around the house.
Around and around and around.
“He’s worn a path in the yard,” said David’s older brother, Tom, as he scraped slushy snow off the front walk.
This all began a couple of years ago. David Palmer, who is 50 and has Down syndrome, went to the doctor and learned that his weight — a shade over 240 pounds — was endangering his health.
With some encouragement from the family, he decided to started walking.
Now, Palmer is a pretty independent man. For nearly 30 years he has risen at 5 a.m. and taken the bus to his job with a disabilities service agency where he packs crayons and markers for Crayola.
But in exercising, he didn’t want to stray too far from home. So his house — a cozy ranch that Palmer’s father, Burt, built after returning from World War II — became the exercise route.
He starts on the side porch and makes a generous loop across the lawn and around the back and to the front again. When he passes a window, he waves to whoever happens to be on the other side.
“This summer he really got gung-ho about it,” said Sharon Palmer, Tom’s wife. “He would come in and say ‘Nineteen laps!’ ”
He doesn’t count laps anymore.
“I go by the clock out there,” David Palmer said. “About a half an hour.”
That’s every day, after work. He used to have a Walkman — the tape-cassette precursor to the iPod — but lost it somewhere along the way. So now he just chugs along to the music of nature.
There is another element to his program. Palmer was eligible for Meals on Wheels, so the family signed him up, and he gets two measured, nutritious meals a day delivered to the house.
“They bring good stuff,” he told me. “Broccoli, mushrooms, stuff like that.”
At last weigh-in, he was 173 pounds.
“We’ll probably have to get a new set of clothes for him,” Tom Palmer said. “We’re all real proud of him.”
When asked when he started walking, David Palmer responded: “A long time ago. I crawled first.”
He has many interests beyond walking, especially music. He likes all the varieties, jazz and classical and rock.
“He knows all the dead rock ’n’ roll stars,” Tom said.
He paints and draws, too, and once made posters for all his friends at work.
That was a typically sweet gesture, said his mother, Eleanor.
“If all the men in the world had the personality of David,” she said, “there would never be another war.”