Parkinson's and Exercise

  • Punching away at Parkinson's symptoms


    For people with Parkinson’s disease, it might seem like the last thing they would enjoy doing would be boxing, or dancing, or even drumming.

    But these, and other exercises are fast becoming the best way to fight the progression of a disease that robs people of their muscle control, balance, and even the ability to speak.

    And it’s also looking more and more that regular exercise can not only help those who have Parkinson’s, but actually prevent the disease in the first place.

    After studying 40,000 people for 13 years, researchers found that moderate exercise could cut the risk of developing the disease in half.

    And it gets even better.

    Exercise programs for Parkinson’s patients are having amazing results for people of all ages, even those who are can no longer walk on their own.

    One program, called Rock Steady Boxing, which started in Indianapolis, now has “training camps” all around the country that teach Parkinson’s patients how to “fight back” against the disease by boxing. (They don’t box each other, but hit heavy bags.)

    As I said, these exercise programs are helping patients of all ages. At the Rock Steady camp in Pawtucket, R.I., the boxers range in age from people in their 40s to an 84 year-old in a wheelchair.

    And for many, the benefits have translated into taking fewer drugs, improving their balance and ability to walk, and even helping to fight depression.

    That may be because exercise appears to naturally increase dopamine, the brain chemical Parkinson’s patients are deficient in. Significant, positive brain changes are seen in patients after as little as six months of exercising.

    So if you know anyone suffering from this disease, find a Parkinson’s exercise program in your area.

    To learn more about Rock Steady boxing, and look for a “camp” close by you. For more information you can check out this site to find out how this activity gives people with Parkinson's hope by improving their quality of life through a non- contact boxing based fitness cirriculum.


    “Fight Parkinson’s: Exercise may be the best therapy” Fichard Knox, February 2, 2015, NPR,