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Boxing Classes Ease Parkinson Disease Symptoms in Older Adults

October 26, 2017

Older adults across the United States with Parkinson disease (PD) are reportedly using boxing exercise programs to slow down the degenerative effects of PD.

Local new outlets from Utah, Florida, and Arkansas have written stories on how adults and older adults with PD have been participating in boxing training exercises in order to improve their quality of life.

Kevin Lightburn, owner of Straightright Boxing in Springdale, Arkansas, said he was approached by a local rehab center to allow over a dozen PD patients to train in his facility. For one hour, two days a week, the program at his facility focuses on knocking out PD;s four main traits—battling stiffness with stretching, balance with footwork, tremors with punching, and memory/reflex problems with drills.

PD patient Jeannie Philips trains at the facility and said, “"I was losing my balance and tripping a lot and then I began to have the tremors.” Now at early stage two of the degenerative disease, she’s working regaining control. “My husband calls it physical therapy on steroids….You’re punching it. You're getting rid of all the emotions that build up inside of you,” Mrs Phillips said (Arkansas Matters. October 25, 2017).
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Daniel Dail, a retired professor, is another PD patient who participates in a boxing program called Rock Strady Boxing, specifically designed to help those with PD improve their balance, motor skills, and speech. There are 10 other older adults in the class with him who have all been diagnosed with PD. After only 3 weeks of classes, participants all experienced improvements in their functions.

Each week, the men in the class begin to push each other more to work harder and to keep going even though the exercise can be challenging. But the program has given Mr Dail more useful hours in his day (Deseret News. October 22, 2017).

Another boxing coach in Orlando, Florida, Cynthia Badrak, is also involved in helping PD patients train in boxing and, while she is not a medical professional, said, “It seems a little counterintuitive to give boxing to people with Parkinson’s….But people who have Parkinson’s don't need to be coddled. They need force-intensive exercise. I think it's important for people with Parkinson's disease to know they can improve the quality of their life” (Click Orlando. October 24, 2017).

—Amanda Del Signore

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