At the Intenze boxing gym in Lawrence, four fighters take to the ring every week battling a ferocious opponent—Parkinson’s disease.
Research shows that exercise helps the brain to form, restore, and maintain connections. Staying active is especially important in fighting the progression of Parkinson’s, a degenerative disease that targets brain function. The National Parkinson’s Foundation even outlines exercise as “an essential part of managing the disease.’’
A nationwide organization, Rock Steady Boxing coordinates with local boxing gyms across the country to provide classes that are designed for people fighting Parkinson’s. Scott C. Newman, who is living with Parkinson’s, founded the training program in Indianapolis after his own experience boxing with a trainer improved and slowed the progression of his condition.
Rock Steady Boxing aims to tackle Parkinson’s with non-contact drills that fight back against the disease’s neurological vulnerabilities. While the focus of the class is overall fitness, participants work drills such as jump rope, ring work, speed bags, double-ended bags and focus mitts to improve hand-eye coordination, balance, and agility, all target areas for Parkinson’s patients. So far, all of the participants say the workout helps control debilitating symptoms of the disease, particularly tremors.