There’s still no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but some patients say they’re boosting their quality of life one punch at a time.
75-year-old Nancy Van Der Straeten was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease nine years ago. “I really used much medicines and I discovered that is not enough. You have to move, move, move,” she says.
And she does move. Wearing purple sneakers and shiny gloves, Nancy believes boxing will slow down her illness. “After two hours training you feel really better,” she says.
Neurologists back up her theory. Dr. Geysu Karlikaya says, “Because you move the legs, you have to make quick decisions and all these keep your brain active. Studies have shown that non-contact boxing is good for the brain, so it’s of course good for the Parkinson’s disease.”
U.S. researchers studied a non-contact boxing program called Rock Steady. It is designed for people with Parkinson’s. They found the classes improved some non-motor symptoms of the disease, like fatigue, fear of falling and anxiety, and also significantly boosted quality of life.
Nancy says, “Instead of being miserable the whole week, you stand up and you say: “Oh today, boxing.” She perfects her punching three times a week and encourages others with Parkinson’s to find a sport they love and stick with it.
Researchers say people with moderate to severe Parkinson’s took a little longer than those with milder symptoms to see the benefits of boxing, but that their hard work paid off.