- slow movement
- stiffness of limbs
- balance problems
There still isn’t a cure for PD, but some researchers think high intensity exercise may slow the rate of the disease’s progression by promoting neural changes in the brain. Boxing in particular has been getting a lot of attention for its potential to help manage the progression of PD.
It’s estimated that more than
Most of the evidence supporting the ability of boxing to help manage PD is anecdotal at this time, but a couple of small studies have found promising results.
Keep reading as we break down what the latest research has found about boxing for managing PD symptoms. We also look at what a typical class entails and whether your insurance can help cover the cost.
Parkinson’s boxing classes are non-combat workouts, meaning you won’t be fighting another person. Classes typically include exercises that help you improve hand-eye coordination, agility, speed, endurance, and strength.
Parkinson’s boxing classes typically range from 30 to 90 minutes. Classes may include:
- stretches and warmup exercises
- punching speed bags and heavy bags
- ring work
- footwork and agility exercises
- jump rope
- exercises to improve overall fitness
- core exercises
- calisthenics and circuit training
- vocal exercises
More than 800 gyms that offer boxing classes for people with PD are affiliated with the nonprofit Rock Steady Boxing. According to their website, no boxing experience is needed to join classes and people of all ages are encouraged to participate. They offer four different class levels depending on your fitness level.
PD occurs when neurons that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine start to die in a part of your brain called the substantia nigra.
Below, we take a deeper look at why exercise and boxing may help slow down the progression of PD.
How exercise may slow down Parkinson’s disease progression
Exercise is thought to help slow down or possibly even reverse the progression of Parkinson’s disease by causing neurological changes in your brain.
High intensity exercise may be particularly helpful
It’s thought that high intensity exercise might be particularly beneficial for slowing the progression of PD.
Benefits of boxing
Boxing has received a lot of attention as a form of high intensity exercise with the potential to be engaging and accessible for people with chronic diseases.
Most of the evidence supporting the use of boxing to help control PD symptoms is anecdotal at this time. But two early studies have found promising results.
- quality of life
Only the boxing group had improvements in gait, velocity, and endurance. The traditional exercise group had significantly greater gains in balance confidence.
In an older
The researchers found that the participants showed short-term and long-term improvements in balance, gait, daily activity, and quality of life.
More research is needed to fully understand the benefits of boxing for PD
Even though early research is promising, it’s important to note that more substantial evidence is needed to fully understand the benefits of boxing for PD. There’s little known about the optimal number of consecutive weeks, times per week, or minutes per week needed to see the most benefits.
Along with potential physiological benefits, joining a Parkinson’s boxing program with other people who are dealing with PD can potentially have psychological benefits.
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.
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.
Your insurance may cover some expenses related to PD, but it’s unlikely to cover the cost of boxing classes.
Some gyms may accept some forms of insurance. According to the website of a New York-based gym, they now accept Independent Health as a form of insurance to cover sessions with a $10 copay for each session and up to 8 sessions per month.
The cost of Parkinson’s boxing classes vary based on your geographic location and the gym you go to. People typically report paying about $75 to $150. As an example, Icor Rock Steady Boxing in Iowa City lists their price as $75 per month after a $75 startup fee.
You can search the Rock Steady Boxing directory to see if any gyms in your area offer classes. Some gyms not affiliated with Rock Steady Boxing offer Parkinson’s boxing so it’s also worth contacting local gyms and recreation centers.
The Parkinson Foundation is currently offering online boxing and fitness classes.
Boxing gloves may be provided to you by the gym, or you may need to bring your own. It’s important to stay hydrated during your workout, so make sure you bring plenty of water.
Intense exercise is thought to slow down the progression of PD by stimulating neurological changes in your brain. Boxing in particular has received a lot of attention for its potential slow down the progression of PD.
More research is needed to fully understand boxing’s benefits, but some early studies look promising.
Along with the potential physiological benefits, joining a Parkinson’s boxing program allows you to connect with a supportive group of people also dealing with PD. If you can’t find classes in your area, you can also try online classes.