The big question is, what is the most effective type of exercise to help a Parkinson’s sufferer slow down the advance of the condition?
As of late boxing has shown to have a positive impact on Parkinson’s symptoms. This full-body workout, recently highlighted in The Washington Post, tests balance, agility and hand-eye coordination, all of which can be affected by Parkinson’s. It also can build muscle strength, potentially help speech (some say grunting or yelling while punching aids with vocal projection) and even offer an outlet for frustration toward symptoms or disease.
Like many types of exercise, boxing can ease a range of PD symptoms. Research suggests, however, that it might be doing even more. A 2011 study in the journal Physical Therapy showed improvements in walking, balance, performance of daily activities and quality of life in six people who boxed regularly. Investigators are working to learn more about how exercise benefits people with Parkinson’s and which symptoms respond to which types and levels of activity.
Adrian Unger started Punchin’ Parko’s Exercise Program (PPEP) after his diagnosis and said “It’s a way to fight back against Parkinson’s disease. It is not a cure. Many people participating in the sessions on a regular basis have been able to keep their Parkinson’s symptoms at bay, particularly if they have only been diagnosed relatively recently. Some people have been able to reclaim some of their previous quality of life. This is not only wonderful for them, but it also alleviates some of the pressure on loved ones who care for them.”
Recently NBN also featured the Coffs Habour boxing class and you can watch the full segment here. The PD Fit Boxing classes are led by senior neurological physiotherapist Amanda Sleeman of Coffs Neuro Physio, who will be assisted by an experienced boxing instructor.
The secret behind the improvement in the symptoms of the Parkinson’s patients seems to be forced, complex and repetitive movement – and boxing training ticks all those boxes. As an added bonus participants have experienced better moods and greater socialisation as a result of the classes.
While we continue to learn more about Parkinson’s disease and exercise, we do know that living an active lifestyle supports overall health. No matter what kind of exercise you choose — boxing, biking or swimming — if you enjoy it, you’ll be more likely to make it a habit!
Find out more about the benefits of exercise to help manage Parkinson’s symptoms.