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Parkinson’s And Boxing Connection

Not A Cure But ‘a Good Antidote’

Muhammad Ali, boxing and connections to Parkinson’s disease

Kristin Plater, 65, said she tried to ignore for Parkinson’s for eight years, until suddenly this year it got worse and she couldn’t pretend any longer. She started boxing three months ago and said it has given her hope.

“It’s a confidence builder, it’s a true muscle builder,” she said. “It’s not going to change the fact that I have Parkinson’s. It’s not a cure for Parkinson’s, but it’s certainly a good antidote to feeling that you can’t do things.”

“I feel that at least I’m competing,” she said. “That somehow the symptoms and I are equal here and we can talk turkey about how much I’m going to allow Parkinson’s to rule my life,” she added.

As for Séguin, he lives by an hour of exercise a day, including racquetball and boxing. He said his tremors have gone from happening up to forty times a day, to only four times daily.

He hopes the research can help others and encourage them to get moving too.

‘Every day I box, I win against Parkinson’s,” he said.

The Link Between Parkinsons And Boxing: Fighting Off Symptoms

For people with Parkinson’s disease a regimen of jab, cross, and hook may help stave off symptoms. Boxing classes specifically for boxers with Parkinson’s are gaining momentum across the country. But what happens when Parkinson’s and boxing face off in the ring?

What is Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological disorder. It causes your brain to produce less dopamine which makes it harder for your body to coordinate movements and manage emotions according to the National Parkinson’s Foundation. Approximately 60,000 people a year are diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The disease is characterized by tremors, a shuffling walk, loss of balance, slowed movements, a softened voice, and cognitive changes along with many other symptoms.

There’s no cure for Parkinson’s and treatments are tailored to manage individual symptoms. However, vigorous exercise may have a protective effect on the brain and help slow the disease’s progression, according to research in the journal Neurology.

How are Parkinson’s and boxing related?

Research is limited, but boxers and their caregivers have noticed major improvements in their symptoms. The classes also offer a chance for caregivers to connect and feel supported.

What’s the class like?

All classes are non-contact. An instructor wears pads and focus mitts for any sparring exercises, but boxers don’t spar with each other.

Parkinsons Disease Causes And Symptoms

It is generally accepted that the symptoms of this disease are caused by the lack of dopamine in the brain. Certain brain cells that are responsible for producing this chemical messenger are impaired or die.

Although research is still needed before knowing more about the clear and root cause of this impairment, there are some factors that may increase the risk of developing this disease. The potential risk factors include genetic mutations, toxins, and head injury. Here is where boxing and this disease share a common field.

Parkinsons disease symptoms include slow speech, automatic body changes, tremor, rigid muscles, and lack of balance, just to name a few. As the disease progresses, the symptoms get more severe and include even dementia.

Also Check: Drugs Prescribed For Parkinson’s Disease

Boxing Therapy Improves Mobility

Another thing youll notice about the most effective boxers is that they rarely stand still. The reason for this is simple moving targets are harder to hit. Of course, boxing therapy for Parkinsons isnt about dodging incoming jabs, its about practicing mobility by stepping in multiple directions, changing speeds and staying light on your toes.

How does it work? Parkinsons attacks both our mobility and agility two traits boxers work to improve through their training routines. Boxing therapy for Parkinsons is specifically designed to help strengthen these abilities.

Movement & Motivation :

Parkinsons NSW Class  Joes Boxing Gym

This class incorporates simple foot movement patterns with rhythmical drumming patterns.

Research supports that challenging the brain with new learning experiences such as drumming rhythms helps to build or strengthen new or existing neurological pathways. Increased neurological pathways help coordination thereby increasing safety in movement. Melanies drumming class has been modified to address neurological challenges unique to neurological disorders such as Parkinsons and MS. Therefore, her class might include drumming while vocalizing, using facial muscles or tongue twisters. This class is a sit and stand format and can be adapted to individual needs.

Cost to participate: FREE

Read Also: How Do You Treat Parkinson’s Disease Naturally

How Exercise May Slow Down Parkinsons Disease Progression

Exercise is thought to help slow down or possibly even reverse the progression of Parkinsons disease by causing neurological changes in your brain.

have found that exercise may have neuroprotective effects on the brain by increasing your bodys production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and growth factors that promote the growth of brain cells.

Other have found that exercise might limit the depletion of dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra. Exercise might also enhance your bodys ability to adapt to altered levels of dopamine and another neurotransmitter called glutamate.

Boxing Therapy For Parkinsons: Learn How To Punch Back

If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with Parkinsons disease, you already know that its a progressive neurological disorder that dramatically impacts mobility. What you may not know, however, is that some exercises are particularly effective in slowing the progression of the disease and can even help maintain quality of life. In this post, well explore the benefits of boxing therapy for Parkinsons and how it works.

Read Also: Music Therapy For Parkinson’s

‘this Is Their Way To Fight Back’

The high-intensity boxing class at Phoenix Boxing on King Edward Avenue involves training like a competitive boxer, but without taking any hits. It’s a non-contact class, and participants never enter the ring.

Boxing coach Chris Weissbach launched the class as a pilot project a year ago with the help of Parkinson Canada. Weissbach heard about Rock Steady Boxing, the U.S.-based initiative started in 2006 that has since spread north to Canada, and wanted to offer the class in the capital.

“The biggest thing is working on their neurotransmitters which is what Parkinson’s is going to attack,” said Weissbach. “So this is their way to fight back. They’re rebuilding their brain and their muscles and the connection between the two which is fantastic to see.”

Paul Wing was diagnosed with Parkinson’s eight years ago. Wing said he’s noticed his balance improved since starting to box, saying he used to feel unsure on his feet.

“It’s like walking on Jello,” he said. “I’m not sure the balance is correct for the next step. It’s helped a lot.”

Boxing Is Helpful At Any Stage

Parkinson’s Patients Confront Symptoms At Boxing Gym

The benefits of exercise can be helpful throughout your disease progression. And, whether you begin at the time of diagnosis or start after youve had PD for many years, most people will achieve results. Those include improving motor skills and creating new connection pathways in the brain, improving neuroplasticity.3

This boxing is not fighting its non-contact and thus different than what you see in the ring.4

The exercises combine physical activity and the learning of new skills, requiring the brain to adapt to new challenges and routines. Besides being fun and socially engaging, some of the reported benefits include increased independence and confidence as well as physical improvements.

Remember, it is always best to check with your neurologist before beginning any new program, especially one that involves intense exercise.

Exercise Programs Incorporating Boxing Skills May Help Manage Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease Here’s How They Work

When Preston Moon was diagnosed with at age 53 in 2008, he never dreamed he’d be bobbing and weaving in a boxing gym or pounding punching bags one year later. After learning that the condition would progressively impair his motor function due to a loss of brain cells that produce the chemical messenger dopamine, he thought he had little to look forward to but a steady decline. Then, in 2009, his next-door neighbor in Indianapolis mentioned Rock Steady Boxing, a local nonprofit program she’d attended that used boxing to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Moon was skeptical. “I’m a retired Army sergeant first class, and physical training was something I did but didn’t necessarily enjoy,” he says. “The last thing I wanted to do was work out again.” But with little to lose, he decided to check out the program. What he saw at the gym was surprising: People were punching small speed bags and large heavy bags, doing footwork and balance exercises, and performing calisthenics. “It was people of all ages, male and female, and they wereexcuse my Frenchgoing balls to the wall,” Moon says. “I thought, ‘These guys have Parkinson’s?’ It changed my attitude immediately.”

Growing Strong


Training Coaches

Making Assessments


Tailoring Workouts

Specific Moves for Specific Symptoms


Pushing Limits

About Rock Steady Boxing

Rock Steady Boxing, Inc. in Indianapolis was founded in 2006 as a 5013 nonprofit organization. It is the headquarters for a movement that is giving people with Parkinsons disease hope. RSB does this by improving their quality of life through a non-contact, boxing-inspired fitness curriculum.

Coaches for the Rock Steady Boxing program feature nationally certified personal trainers and YMCA certified personal trainers. Our main focus will be to address balance, strength, coordination, mobility, and flexibility. Group participation also encourages interaction among each other with great camaraderie as a result. This program is currently available at the West Shore YMCA and partners with Senior Helpers.

What Is Parkinsons Boxing

November 26, 2019 by Zach Galati

You probably know how important it is to exercise when you have Parkinsons disease . Exercise can help you manage the different symptoms of your PD and can help you regain control of your life. However, the question always arises about what types of exercise are best. And while there is no one size fits all approach to an exercise regimen, many people who live with Parkinsons have been flocking to boxing exercise regimens.

While you probably have heard of Parkinsons boxing classes you may not know exactly what they entail and what symptoms it can help alleviate.

What is a Parkinsons Boxing Class?

A Parkinsons boxing class is a full-body workout exercise regimen where you perform non-combat boxing exercises. A typical Parkinsons boxing class will involve:

  • Anywhere from 30 60 minutes of exercises
  • Stretches and warm-up exercises to prepare the body for the workout and to avoid injury.
  • Punching speed bags to help improve coordination and posture or punching heavy bags to build strength and muscle.
  • Vocal exercises are incorporated into the workout to help with any voice disorder symptoms of Parkinsons.
  • Footwork and other agility exercises will be used to help improve balance.
  • There is also a lot of group exercises that focus on socialization and community in each class.

If you would like to see a Parkinsons boxing class in action

What are the benefits of a Parkinsons Boxing Class?

FAQs for Parkinsons Boxing classes

We Asked Our Experts About The Effects Rock Steady Boxing Has On Parkinsons

Fighting off Parkinson

Despite limited clinical evidence, this program is tremendously popular and we get asked about it often. We aimed to find out more about Rock Steady Boxing by talking with two experts on this subject from the APDA community, Dr. Adena Leder and Dr. Terry Ellis. While the two have somewhat different outlooks, there is valuable insight to be gleaned from their unique perspectives.

Dr. Adena Leder is the Medical Director of the Adele Smithers Parkinsons Center, and Associate Professor, New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is the Medical Director of the Nassau County APDA Information and Referral Center, based at NYIT. Dr. Leder is also a trained Rock Steady Boxing instructor.

Dr. Terry Ellis is an Associate Professor at Boston University, College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy & Athletic Training. Dr. Ellis is also the Director of the Center for Neurorehabilitation at Boston University and the Director of the APDA National Rehabilitation Resource Center housed at Boston University.

We asked Dr. Leder and Dr. Ellis their thoughts on Rock Steady Boxing.

Quest Website Evidence Appraisal

Two independent reviewers applied the QUEST tool to the final nine included websites to appraise global boxing implementation for PD . Consensus was reached with a third reviewer acting as an arbiter. This appraisal indicated that websites were variable, and generally poor in quality in relation to comprehensive, validated boxing interventions, scoring 3/28 to 20/28 . The websites advocated boxing as beneficial for people with PD and presented boxing exercise classes in locations across the USA, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Many provided testimonials and they frequently endorsed boxing for PD with limited reference to evidence-based research. Other important information such as the date of publication or qualifications of the authors of the website were usually not provided . This analysis indicated that higher quality online health information is required to support the efficacy of boxing for people living with PD.

Q: What Are The Advantages Of Rock Steady Boxing For People With Pd Any Disadvantages Safety Concerns

Dr. Leder: One of the main advantages of Rock Steady is that there is a high compliance rate. It is fun and social and therefore patients enjoy coming. The more they come the better they feel. There are two different types of classes. One is for patients who are not at risk of falling and the other is for patients who either are at risk of falling or actively fall. When the class is in person , we always have medical student volunteers who are there to watch and guard those who may be at risk of falling. They are also able to take blood pressures when someone feels lightheaded

The main disadvantage in our program is that more patients wish to come to a class than we can accommodate! Otherwise, there are no more safety concerns as compared to attending a typical gym perhaps less, because the program caters to a special population and has safety guards in place to protect against falling, which a regular gym does not.

Dr. Ellis: It is important to note that it is the components of boxing that may help symptoms of PD. We know that the components of exercise that can help PD include strength training, aerobic training and balance training, among others. These elements can be accomplished with many different exercise modalities and routines, with boxing potentially as one of them.

How Boxing Helps Parkinsons Disease Clients

Reid Health in Indiana is the first hospital affiliate for Rock Steady Boxing, a program that uses noncontact boxing-inspired fitness routines so participants can dramatically improve their ability to live independent lives.

Emerging research supports the idea. As reported on and published in Physical Therapy, the study followed a few boxers in the Rock Steady Boxing Foundation found that all boxers who followed through on 12 weeks of training saw improvements in their symptoms. The study tracked balance, gait, quality of life and disability.

Those who stuck with the training for 24 or even 36 weeks saw sustained improvement in their symptoms. Even boxers who worked out less often after the initial 12 weeks continued to improve. Participants with moderate to severe Parkinsons took a little longer than those with milder symptoms to see changes, but their dedication paid off a few weeks later.

Boxing Class Helps Patients Fight Parkinsons Disease

Boxing exercises help Parkinson’s patients

Rock Steady program offers intense workouts to condition body and mind

Its noon on a Tuesday as a group of determined individuals arrive at Rush Copley Healthplex for their weekly boxing class. They dont look like typical boxers. The class includes men and women and many are older with graying hair. Some walk hesitantly. Others use walkers. But they all have one thing in common and one goal they have Parkinsons disease and, for the next hour, will train like boxers to try to stop or slow the progression of their disease.

The class is Rock Steady Boxing, a progressive fitness program held weekly at the Healthplex for those affected by Parkinsons. It helps them fight back, feel comfortable and gain confidence in their abilities.

Participant William Grisch says he attends the boxing class for the same reason we all do it to try to stop or slow down Parkinsons. Has it helped? It has certainly slowed it down, he says. The exercises make sense. Some are more difficult and make us push our bodies as hard as we can go.

Ottawa Researcher Testing Results

The program captured the attention of researcher Julie Nantel at the University of Ottawa. She’s tapping into the science of boxing to try and measure if there are effects on people with Parkinson’s disease.

“I would like to be the first to show that boxing, if it’s the case, can improve balance and mobility,” said Nantel.

As part of this research, Nantel has Séguin slip on a black, full-body suit covered in grey markers and stand on a blue platform in the middle of a lab room.

Eight cameras that use infrared light surround him to capture his motions and record his movement on a computer nearby. The motion-capture technology is similar to that used in plotting the movement of computer-generated characters in movies like Avatar.

Nantel tested participants in the Parkinson’s boxing program before they started eight weeks ago, and now wants to try and measure if there is any change.

“Are they really faster when they’re walking?” she said. “Are they moving more fluidly. Are they able to move side to side faster? We are really trying to figure out if the way they feel, we can put numbers on it.”

Nantel hopes her work and research like it could help give people with Parkinson’s a better quality of life and compliment their medication.

The Bottom Line: Exercise And Pd

Rock Steady Boxing can be a great way for people with PD to get exercise and socialization, although it is certainly not the only way. Talk with your doctor about whether Rock Steady Boxing is a good addition to your activities and look for a class that will challenge you in a safe and monitored environment. And if boxing is not for you, dont worry! There are many types of exercise that benefit people with PD you can try different classes until you find what suits you best.

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