Can this activity fight back against Parkinson’s?

Can this activity fight back against Parkinson’s?

Boxing might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a therapeutic sport, but it’s one exercise that is getting a lot of attention for its positive effect on patients with Parkinson’s disease.

According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, as many as one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease. Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year, not including the thousands of cases that go undetected.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, degenerative neurological disease that, unfortunately, has no cure. People with Parkinson’s disease experience a loss of motor and non-motor function due to a decline in the production of a neurotransmitter in the brain called “dopamine,” which is responsible for brain-to-muscle communication.

A program called Rock Steady Boxing is helping thousands of Parkinson’s patients all over the world fight back against their disease. The program uses non-contact boxing-inspired fitness to focus on balance, hand-eye coordination, speed of movement, agility, strength and mental focus.

Stephanie Combs-Miller, an associate professor and director of research at the University of Indianapolis Krannert School of Physical Therapy, has been studying the effects of this program for eight years. She has found in her research that those who participated in this high-intensity program showed more improvement in their balance, flexibility and overall quality of life than those who participated in other forms of exercise.

While forced, intense exercise of any kind, such as cycling or strength training, has shown positive improvements with people battling Parkinson’s disease. Boxing focuses on exercises that target the main symptoms associated with this disease. A boxer training for a fight will focus on agility, muscle power, balance, speed, rhythm and hand-eye coordination to defeat and fight back against his opponent. For Rock Steady Boxing participants, that opponent is Parkinson’s Disease. If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, consult your physician before starting any new exercise program. Rock Steady Boxing is not a cure, but it aims to improve the quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s until a cure is found.

Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center, located at 1111 Trinity Lane in Bloomington, Ill., has recently added Rock Steady Boxing Classes. This medically-based fitness facility is open to anyone, seven days a week, with exercise professionals on staff at all times. The Center includes a warm water hydrotherapy pool, lap pool, group classes and a 1/12 mile track. For more information call 309-433-9355.

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About the Author

Molly Smeltzer
Molly Smeltzer

Molly Smeltzer is the fitness and wellness manager at Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center. She specializes in individual and small group training, senior fitness, post rehabilitative exercise prescription and assessment evaluation and exercise programming. Molly believes there is a way to help everyone through exercise and enjoys guiding people in the safest and most effective way to do so.