One of the most recognized names, not only in the history of boxing, but the world in general, is Muhammad Ali. Known for being one of the leading heavyweight champions, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1984.
While there are many possible causes of Parkinson’s, one of the environmental factors is head injury. Many people assumed this was the reasoning behind Ali’s diagnosis, however even his physicians opposed this. He would proceed to fight the disease for 32 years, during which he would use his popularity and fame as a way to bring awareness to the disease.
Along with helping establish the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute, Ali also helped come up with a treatment regimen for Parkinson’s.
According to Parkinson’s News Today, “As a result of his [Ali’s] influence, it is now widely accepted that regular exercise, particularly when begun early after diagnosis, can reduce symptoms and greatly increase a patient’s quality of life. Many centers, including the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center, now integrate physical and mental exercise into the treatment of patients.”
According to Global News, Parkinson’s disease affects one in every 500 people in Canada and over 100,000 Canadians are living with Parkinson’s right now.
An amazing form of physical exercise that has shown amazing benefits to fighting this disease, is boxing.
All types of boxing, (like the ones you can learn in classes at Urban Legends), offer many benefits.
“Boxing as a sport requires a high level of athletic prowess: strength, speed, agility, hand-eye coordination, endurance, nerve, and power, just to name several required attributes. Boxing as a fitness activity enables the average person to hone those same athletic skills, all without having to take a punch.” – Money Crashers
Whether you’re looking to improve your cardiovascular health or hand-eye coordination, tone/strengthen your body, or simply have a way to lower your stress, boxing is a perfect option for you.
A form of boxing that is gaining popularity when it comes to the effect it has for those fighting Parkinson’s, is Rock Steady Boxing.
“Rock Steady Boxing is a first of-its-kind, non-contact boxing-inspired fitness curriculum designed to dramatically improve the ability of people suffering with Parkinson’s disease. It was founded in 2006 by former Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age 40. He experienced a rapid progression of symptoms including tremors, rigidity, and a loss of some functions. A friend taught him how to box, and he quickly saw his symptoms decrease. After only a few weeks, he stretched out his arms and said, “Look, I’m Rock Steady.” – via Photo Shoot for a Cure
Since 2006, there have been several articles, reports, and firsthand accounts stating the ways Rock Steady Boxing helps the lives of those suffering from this degenerative neurological disease.
Michael J. Fox, another prominent figure in the fight against Parkinson’s, has also featured information about Rock Steady Boxing on his Foundation’s website.
“This full-body workout, recently highlighted in The Washington Post, tests balance, agility and hand-eye coordination, all of which can be affected by Parkinson’s. It also can build muscle strength, potentially help speech (some say grunting or yelling while punching aids with vocal projection) and even offer an outlet for frustration toward symptoms or disease.” It is amazing to see how physical activity can truly make a difference in people’s lives, and for individuals fighting Parkinson’s, boxing sounds like it may be the perfect activity to try.
By Joanna Ahti