In a previous life, I worked with a number of people living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) to help advocate for them and empower them to fight back to make the most of their lives.
It’s something that I will never forget because I believe it made a lasting, positive difference in their lives—and mine. I was especially motivated to help because PD struck one of my own family members and I wanted to give back. I still do.
So when I read about the dramatic difference that boxing—yes—boxing is making in the lives of people with Parkinson’s, I just had to share it.
But honestly, I thought the results were so dramatic, that I put on my “doubting Thomas’ hat” when I started reading. You know what I’m talking about, right?
PD is a serious, chronic disease that attacks the nervous system. Although PD affects people differently and not everyone will experience the same symptoms, it can be debilitating in many ways as the disease progresses.
So there’s this guy—not just any guy, but a professional boxing coach—who lives in Buffalo, NY, and works in a boxing gym (think Rocky and you’re there!). He’s trained hundreds of national champions, spending countless hours in the gym, motivating them, pushing them hard to excel in and out of the ring. He’s the go-to man to help people push through their pain, their self-doubt, sore, aching muscles and fear. You got me?
Well… knowing the power and amazing impact that exercise has on the body to improve overall health and well-being, he started working with a guy, (let’s call him Peter) who has PD.
The coach thought that some mild exercise might improve Peter’s muscle tone and maybe his dexterity. Simple enough. BUT… what he saw was a DRAMATIC difference within just a few weeks.
Peter had extreme difficulty walking and spent most of his time in a wheelchair. He’d tripped numerous times, fell on his dog, and lived with chronic pain. Although the coach didn’t have any medical experience, he devised an exercise plan for Peter and thus began one of now 200 success stories for people with PD! You can read more about it and see the video here.
Do these people still have PD? Of course they do. There is no cure. But what’s really remarkable is that these people are stronger, they are walking, they have better balance, dexterity, mobility—the difference is quite dramatic. We’re talking punching bags, ducking and throwing cross-punches just like champs—slower, mind you, but they are doing it and improving.
Coach says he believes that boxing is slowing the progression of the disease. He doesn’t need medical experts to confirm (although they will). This community is seeing it with their own eyes.
I think Coach is on to something.