I recently took up boxing, and the benefits for me have been extraordinary. Exercise is good for everyone, but it’s imperative that a person with Parkinson’s disease (PWP) make exercise a part of their daily routine. We’ve all heard the saying “use it or lose it.” This is especially true for a PWP. A PWP will progressively lose their ability to move as the disease relentlessly attacks their body. Rigidity, slowness, tremors are just a few symptoms PWP’s experience. You tell your body to move, but at times it moves slowly or hardly at all. I guess the closest analogy I can draw is imagine yourself submerged in mud and trying to move. That’s only one aspect of living with Parkinson’s (there are many others, but I will save it for another occasion).
You might be wondering why I added boxing, in particular, to my exercise routine. Well, a recent study followed PWPs who engaged in a boxing routine over a two year period and found that in these individuals the progression of the disease was slowed, and in some cases their symptoms actually diminished. Here is a link to a CBS segment on a boxing program for PWPs in NYC and the medical study behind it: Rock Steady Boxing.
I’ve already had brain surgery twice to manage my symptoms, and if I can stop or minimize the progression of the disease I’m going to do it. So, now I’m boxing and I love it!
While I truly enjoy it, it’s not easy. My trainer, John, at The Jungle MMA & Fitness is a real, professional fighter. He trains me like he trains all his fighters, which means he is teaching me proper technique and holding me to it. Boxing is a very technical sport – more so than I ever realized. It’s challenging and forces me out of my comfort zone. Each session starts out sluggish because my body is fighting (no pun intended) the movement. About halfway through the workout my body starts to loosen up. By the end, I’m moving fluidly – well, comparatively speaking. Overall, I have more energy and I have found that my daily dose of medications is reduced on the days of my boxing workouts.
Before every workout, I wrap my hands and wrists. And yes, I have pink wraps and gloves. I have to bring some style to this sport, right?! My husband and my trainer have named me the “Fighting Fashionista.”
Each workout begins with “rope work” to try and get my body moving. Then we move on to mitt work where the trainer calls out punch combinations for me – some of which are very complex.
We also incorporate aspects of sparring, which means more focus on defensive moves. Below he’s throwing a punch and I’m “rolling” to avoid being hit. If don’t keep my hands up or otherwise don’t defend myself with the proper technique, he gives me a tap with the mitt to mimic the consequences of poor defense. As a game, we count the “knockouts” he would have landed if we were actually sparring. The most I’ve been “knocked out” was approximately 10 times in one hour and that was in the very early stages of learning some of the techniques. It was probably more than 10 times, he probably stopped counting – I know I did :). I’m down to three knockouts now. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m having fun and hopefully halting the progression of this stupid (fill in the expletive) disease in the process.
Thanks for reading.