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Boxing Therapy For Parkinsons: Learn How To Punch Back

Parkinson’s Disease Exercises: Boxing with Strength

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.

What Type Of Exercise Should I Do If I Have Parkinsons Disease

Exercise is a planned, structured, repetitive activity that is intended to improve physical fitness. There is no right exercise for people with Parkinsons. Everyones regimen will differ, depending on overall health, symptoms and previous level of activity. Any exercise helps, and a variety of exercise types may provide well-rounded benefits.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise involves activities that challenge your cardiorespiratory system such as walking, biking, running, and activities in the pool. Participating in aerobic exercise at least three days a week for 30-40 minutes may slow Parkinsons decline.

Strength training

Strength training involves using your body weight or other tools to build muscle mass and strength. Strength training two days per week, starting with low repetition and weight, may be beneficial in Parkinsons disease. A focus on extensor muscles, or muscles in the back of the body, can help with posture.

Flexibility training

Stretching two or more days per week can be beneficial to maintain range of motion and posture. Holding each stretch of major muscle groups for 30 to 60 seconds can improve muscle length.

Balance and agility training

This type of training often combines aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility training. Examples include:

  • Tai chi, yoga or Pilates.

Should I Talk To My Healthcare Provider Before I Start Exercising If I Have Parksinsons Disease

Talk to your neurologist and your primary care provider before starting a new exercise regimen. They can:

  • Counsel you on how intense your exercises can be.
  • Recommend exercises appropriate for your individual health.
  • Refer you to a physical therapist to create a personal exercise program.
  • Warn about exercises to avoid based on your particular challenges or limitations.

Recommended Reading: What Is The Best Exercise For Someone With Parkinson’s

Senior Star: In Your Corner For The Fight Against Parkinsons

Some Senior Star communities offer a program called Rock Steady Boxing. This non-contact physical therapy class is specifically designed to help people living with Parkinsons disease. Jessie Ritter, the program director at Senior Star Dublin, teaches seniors with the disease a new way to fight back. Since the program began, Jessie has witnessed the neuroprotective benefits of boxing therapy first hand. She has seen people in their 90s feel stronger and more empowered as a direct result of their participation in the Rock Steady Boxing class.

At Senior Star, Rock Steady Boxing is just one of the many ways were determined to offer seniors a variety of innovative opportunities to support holistic health and overall well-being. We call them our Signature Programs, and were positive youll find something that inspires you. Contact us today for more information or learn more about the vibrant lifestyle options we offer.

Boxing Is Helpful At Any Stage

YMCA providing boxing classes for those with Parkinson

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.

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Boxing Therapy Helps With Activities Of Daily Living

The International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society sought to determine the impact of boxing therapy on Parkinsons disease, including improvements to participants ability to perform ADLs. What they found was encouraging. On average, modest improvements in both ADL performance and motor skills were documented among the participants.

How does it work? Recent studies performed at The Cleveland Clinic show that certain types of exercise have neuro-protective benefits, including the ability to slow the progression of diseases like Parkinsons. This may explain why boxing therapy for Parkinsons is helping people maintain or improve their quality of life.

Q: Are All Rock Steady Boxing Courses The Same Do You Have Advice For People Looking For Classes On How To Find A Good One

Dr. Leder: All programs are not the same. The instructors and the class format can vary quite a bit. Most often, people will simply go to the one that is closest to where they live, but they might want to trial a class before they sign up to make sure they like the instructor and it feels safe for them.

Dr. Ellis: In my experience, there is a lot of variability in the quality of the classes. In order to become an instructor in the program training is required, which is great, but the variability in instructors still remains. Some instructors come from the world of boxing and fitness others, from the medical world.

It is important for anyone who teaches these classes to have some expertise in PD. Understanding elements of PD such as freezing of gait, postural control deficits, fall risk and on/off periods, that are unique to PD can make the class safe and more effective for people with PD. Invariably, a program overseen by movement disorders specialist like Dr. Leder will be enhanced by her PD expertise.

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Boxing Is The Most Effective Workout To Conquer Movement Challenges Associated With Parkinson’s Designed To Pack A Punch

Circuit Training

A style of workout performed with different stations utilizing various pieces of equipment, with high intensity, providing benefits such as increased strength and muscle endurance.

Uses continuous movement of large muscle groups to strengthen the heart and lungs.

  • Breathing techniques to combat stress, anxiety, and depression.

  • Improves balance and flexibility

  • Awareness and engagement of core muscles benefit posture

  • Active and passive stretching leads to better joint mobility and flexibility

  • Low impact strengthening exercises keeps joints safe


Group physical therapy-based, intended to be a maintenance program, full-body exercise class led by physical therapists that incorporate evidence-based exercise principles to address specific PD symptoms/impairments including:

  • Movement amplitude


Exercises will be performed in a variety of positions, including standing, sitting, and on the floor. Class is designed for people who are physically independent, can participate in balance, and on/off floor exercises without assistance.

Exercises will be performed seated or standing with assistance.


Exercises address the following common

problems that occur in people with Parkinson’s:

  • Voice Projection & Articulation



Data Sources And Searches

Parkinson’s Disease Exercises: Boxing

Eight electronic databases were searched using the following terms and synonyms: Parkinsons, Parkinson disease, PD, idiopathic primary parkinsonism, primary parkinsonism, shaking palsy, boxing, combat sports, punch, pugilism, amateur boxing from inception up until August 14, 2019. The databases were searched with comparable strategies using terms and search language adapted to the individual database format. The Medline search strategy is listed in Appendix 2 . Reference lists of the included studies were hand-searched and experts in the field of movement disorders were consulted.

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Bucks County Boxing Gym Works With Patients Living With Parkinsons Disease

Rock Steady Boxing in New Hope is helping give people living with Parkinsons disease a fighting chance at living a healthy and normal life.


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Q: How Did You First Become Involved In Rock Steady Boxing

Dr. Leder: I am a movement disorder specialist and I primarily see patients. During my fellowship I became aware of the positive effects that exercise has on the PD population. During many years in private practice, it became apparent that insurance, including Medicare, does not cover enough physical therapy to actually help a PD patient throughout the year. For years I was trying to determine how to deliver an exercise program to the PD population that would be affordable and accessible to all. I first learned about Rock Steady Boxing from a 60 Minutes segment with Leslie Stahl and I knew right away that it was the program I needed to start in my community.

I became certified as a Rock Steady Boxing expert by taking a three-day course at the Rock Steady Boxing boot camp. When we started the program at NYIT, I personally ran some of the classes. I no longer actually run the classes because I have handpicked fitness professionals who can perform the job better than I can, and I continue to oversee, organize, help and supervise the program. The unique aspect of having the program at the university is that we accept donations and grants and therefore we can offer scholarships to boxers who are unable to pay for the class. No one is turned away for financial reasons.

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What Is Rock Steady Boxing

Rock Steady Boxing is a boxing program designed for people with PD, based on exercises that are adapted from the world of boxing that emphasize agility, speed, endurance, accuracy, hand-eye coordination, footwork and strength. The exercises are meant to be vigorous and to push the participants beyond what they perceive they are capable of performing. Various levels of training have been developed to meet the needs of people with PD at different stages of the disease. Started at a gym in Indiana in 2006, Rock Steady Boxing developed a system to train fitness instructors across the country and now operates out of more than 870 affiliate locations worldwide. Those interested undergo a two-part Affiliate Training Camp an online course, followed by an interactive in-person or virtual-based hands-on training. Trained personnel can then set up an affiliate Rock Steady Boxing program.

What Is Parkinsons Boxing

Boxing for People with Parkinson

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

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More Research Is Needed To Fully Understand The Benefits Of Boxing For Pd

Even though early research is promising, its important to note that more substantial evidence is needed to fully understand the benefits of boxing for PD. Theres little known about the optimal number of consecutive weeks, times per week, or minutes per week needed to see the most benefits.

A 2019 review of studies concluded that the current use of boxing for treating PD has accelerated beyond current research evidence.

Along with potential physiological benefits, joining a Parkinsons boxing program with other people who are dealing with PD can potentially have psychological benefits.

In a

Before starting a boxing program, you should speak with your doctor. Rock Steady Boxing recommends every person has their doctor sign a release form before participating.

Its been suggested that boxing training could be beneficial in the early to middle stages of the disease and less appropriate at the end stage.

If you have a heart condition or another condition that may prevent you from undergoing high intensity exercise, boxing may not be right for you.

Hit Parkinsons Where It Hurts: 3 Benefits Of Boxing Therapy

Exercise of any kind is helpful to people with Parkinsons disease because it can help improve everything from balance and mobility to an individuals ability to perform the basic activities of daily living . In fact, according to the Parkinsons Foundation, research shows that getting at least two and a half hours of exercise per week is enough to slow the decline in a persons quality of life. Lets take a closer look at three of the biggest benefits of boxing therapy for Parkinsons.

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Where Can I Find Support If I Have Parkinsons Disease And Want To Exercise

You can find exercise support in your community. For example, many gyms and community centers offer seated exercise classes for people who struggle with balance. Ask your healthcare provider for ideas if you have Parkinsons disease and want to exercise.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Exercise is an important part of managing Parkinsons disease. Talk to your healthcare provider about your exercise program and choose activities you enjoy so you stay motivated to get up and move every day.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/08/2021.


If I Exercise Will I Still Need My Parkinsons Medications

Boxing Class Helps Those With Parkinsons Fight Back Against The Disease | NBC Nightly News

Some people find that exercise helps them reduce the doses of Parkinsons medications over time. But exercise is not a replacement for your medications. In fact, some people need more medications so they can stay active. Dont make changes to your medications without talking to your healthcare providers.

Also Check: What Drugs Are Used For Parkinson’s Disease

The Rock Steady Boxing Solution

Various studies in the 1980s and 1990s supported the notion that rigorous exercise, emphasizing gross motor movement, balance, core strength, and rhythm, could favorably impact range of motion, flexibility, posture, gait, and activities of daily living. More recent studies, most notably at Cleveland Clinic, focus on the concept of intense forced exercise, and have begun to suggest that certain kinds of exercise may be neuro-protective, i.e., actually slowing disease progression. Our clients attest, and academic institutions, such as University of Indianapolis and Butler University, are reporting and documenting the improved quality of life among our boxers. Discovery of a cure may be many years away but in the last seven years, there is evidence that progress is made in all stages of the disease by those participating in the RSB program.

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.

Recommended Reading: What To Expect As Parkinson’s Progresses

Are There Any Risks Of Exercising With Parkinsons Disease

Some symptoms, like Parkinsons tremors, may seem worse during exercise. But exercise generally improves tremors and other symptoms in the long run.

Reduce challenges by stretching before and after exercise. Use good form to prevent injury. And avoid slippery floors, poor lighting and tripping hazards. If you have pain, stop and rest.

Pushing yourself too hard during exercise can lead to injury. Start slowly and increase intensity and duration over time. Keep a log to track your exercise choices and how you feel. Eventually, youll learn what works best for you.

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