In the state of Maine, more than 150 people diagnosed with Parkinson’s are fighting against failing health with boxing lessons. Yes, you read that right. Boxing lessons. As a part of a program called Rock Steady Boxing, participants go to the gym twice a week and do everything that you might expect a boxer to do—other than actually fighting each other. The patients—the vast majority of them elderly—hit heavy bags with jabs and hooks, they jump-rope, and they snap off lefts and rights on a speed bag. A movement disorder specialist at Maine Medical Partners Neurology says the boxing program is effective because it addresses several symptoms of deterioration associated with Parkinson’s, including slowed movement and restricted range of motion. Having to move feet and hands at the same time while counting punches encourages what the specialist called “motor multi-tasking, which is very hard.” On top of that, boxing drills bring added benefits in areas like balance, core strength, hand-eye coordination and the mental focus needed to string together successive movements. No cure currently exists for Parkinson’s, but with boxing, patients can drastically slow down its effects while restoring pride in their health. READ MORE
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