Rock Steady Boxing: An Exercise Class to Manage PD Symptoms

Rock Steady Boxing: An Exercise Class to Manage PD Symptoms

The benefits of exercise have been touted as essential to a healthy lifestyle for decades. Running, cross training, yoga, and Pilates have all had their time on the front pages as the answer to a Fitter You. Exercise improves heart health, endurance, strength and flexibility, bone density and even your brain. Exercise is beneficial for young and old alike, and has been proven to be especially beneficial to those with Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative brain disorder, is classically characterized by affecting movement. Motor symptoms include tremors, rigidity and stiffness, slowness of movement, and poor balance. Research from the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project found that exercise could improve the quality of life of people with PD. It specifically recommends at least 2.5 hours of vigorous exercise per week, which can improve your balance, flexibility, and inflammation as well as improve neuroplasticity.1

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s own way to adapt to changes caused by illness, injury or the environment. It is a natural re-education of the neurons to modify messages received by the brain. Learning new exercises, like learning a new language or trying new puzzles, are valuable techniques used by those who are aging as well as those with neurological conditions like Parkinson’s.

Rock Steady Boxing is everywhere

Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) is a non-contact fitness program designed specifically for people with Parkinson’s. Founded in 2006, by a young onset patient who wanted to challenge his disease, its origin comes from his personal regimen designed by a boxing trainer.2 Working with a coach on a modified boxing regimen to gain strength and agility, he noticed improvements in his health and a reduction in Parkinson’s symptoms. He achieved such individual improvement that he formed a nonprofit to help bring the program to others. Today there are over 450 RSB programs around the world.3

According to RSB, “boxers condition for optimal agility, speed, muscular endurance, accuracy, hand-eye coordination, footwork and overall strength to defend against and overcome opponents. At RSB, Parkinson’s disease is the opponent. Exercises vary in purpose and form but share one common trait: they are rigorous and intended to empower people with PD to fight back.”

Boxing is helpful at any stage

The benefits of exercise can be helpful throughout your disease progression. And, whether you begin at the time of diagnosis or start after you’ve had PD for many years, most people will achieve results. Those include improving motor skills and creating new connection pathways in the brain, improving neuroplasticity.3

This boxing is not fighting; it’s non-contact and thus different than what you see in the ring.4

The exercises combine physical activity and the learning of new skills, requiring the brain to adapt to new challenges and routines. Besides being fun and socially engaging, some of the reported benefits include increased independence and confidence as well as physical improvements.

Remember, it is always best to check with your neurologist before beginning any new program, especially one that involves intense exercise.

RSB trainers understand PD

RSB instructors are trained exercise professionals with deep knowledge of Parkinson’s disease. They work on specific skills to improve footwork, coordination, and strength. They understand the hesitation some participants feel. They understand the limitations some people may have when they start, but as a coach they reinforce the positivity of commitment. Stretching, building strength, and agility all help with motor control and building new brain connections can help to slow the progression of PD.

An RSB program may already be in a location near you. Click here to access the website – it lists locations for classes and coaching clinics.3

The RSB logo is the Statue of Liberty embellished with a boxing glove. RSB’s founder Steve Newman has said, that the inscription on the Statue of Liberty combined with the hope she symbolizes echoed his dream that Rock Steady Boxing would be a beacon of light and hope for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease.3

View References
  1. Everything you need to know about exercise and Parkinsons. National Parkinson’s Foundation website blog. http://www.parkinson.org/find-help/blogs/tips-for-daily-living/Everything-You-Need-to-Know-About-Exercise-and-Parkinsons
  2. Lindahl, C. Boxing class helps seniors fight Parkinson’s disease.  AP US News.com website.  Published September 18, 2017. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/massachusetts/articles/2017-09-18/boxing-class-helps-seniors-fight-parkinsons-disease. Accessed online October 16, 2017.
  3. Rock Steady Boxing website.  https://www.rocksteadyboxing.org/ Accessed online October 17, 2017.
  4. Colino, S. Punching Out Parkinson’s: Boxing Training Improves Symptoms. US News.com website. Published June 15, 2017. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2016-06-15/punching-out-parkinsons-boxing-training-improves-symptoms. Accessed online October 16, 2017.

Comments

View Comments (5)
  • Marcia
    11 months ago

    I would just love to do this. But so many ladies with PD have osteoporosis and Arthritis of our arms hand and legs. So worried about breaking bones or the pain factor. Is there a way or ideas for folks like myself to do boxing w/o the worries of these issues! ? Thanks great job.

  • KellyW moderator
    11 months ago

    Hi Marcia. Most Rock Steady classes are very accommodating to all types of physical ailments. I’ve be in classes with people of all ages and conditions. They do conduct an assessment before your first class. I recommend that you go and watch a class to understand the dynamics and if you think it would be appropriate for you. Please consult your doctor before starting any new exercise classes.

    Regards,
    Kelly, ParkinsonsDisease.net Team Member

  • Chris H. moderator
    11 months ago

    Hi @marcia! Good to hear from you! Based on RSB’s FAQ page, it seems that there’s an evaluation that occurs prior to beginning the program. This helps determine what exercises would be appropriate based on age/condition: https://www.rocksteadyboxing.org/about/faq/. It seems like they are pretty accommodating. Let us know if you end up trying it! – Chris, ParkinsonsDisease.net Team Member

  • PaulaFournier
    11 months ago

    I have been an active member of Rocksteadyboxing for two years. This wonderful program give me,and my fellow boxers,hope,fellowship and a great way to improve our symptoms. I cannot say enough about the hope I have for my future. If there is a program near you I urge you to give it a try.

  • Chris H. moderator
    11 months ago

    That’s so great, @paulafournier! Glad to hear how beneficial it’s been for you! Thanks for haring with us. – Chris, ParkinsonsDisease.net Team Member

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