There are more than fifty published evidence-based studies that attest to the benefits of exercise to improve daily living for Persons with Parkinson’s. The studies range from examining fitness programs necessary for things like household chores to more advanced fitness levels needed to ski, play golf or hike.
My personal favorite of the many published exercise methods is a program that has boxing as the core feature. Rock Steady Boxing is non-contact boxing and cross-training combined. Boxing may seem like a surprising exercise for women and men who struggle with balance and have motor coordination issues. However, the women and men in classes overcome many of their movement disorders when they start punching a heavy bag.
Studies of boxing, an activity that involves rapid movements in different planes, and uses the right and left side of the brain and body, show remarkable benefits to slow Parkinson’s symptoms. And it improves everyday functional activities like cleaning or fun activities like gardening. Research shows that people who exercise harder (within reason) get the greatest symptom relief in the shortest time. And it feels good to hit something and fight back against this terrible disease.
What the Parkinson’s Foundation says about exercise:
- “Exercise is one of your medicines”
- “Exercise is one of the very best things you can do”
- “Exercise is a vital component in helping to manage the symptoms of the disease”
How does exercise and enhanced fitness help with symptoms?
- Reduces tremor, stiffness and gait freezing
- Decreases risk of falling and joint injury
- Improves movement and motor coordination in daily chores
- Enhances mental acuity, concentration and focus
- Improves socialization, mood and reduces anxiety
Be an active participant in your treatment.
Always check with your physician before starting any exercise program.
60 Minutes Correspondent Lesley Stahl and her husband, Aaron Latham, who has Parkinson’s, visit the Rock Steady Boxing program to see the promising results.