People living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) now have a way to fight back.
Lexington Avenue Gym and the Michael J. Fox Foundation sponsored an informational meeting on Sept. 14 for people with PD. The program emphasized the importance of exercise in improving both the physical and mental condition of those suffering with the disease. Specifically, the meeting highlighted the Rock Steady Boxing program, an innovative approach to PD exercise, and it offered personal stories from participants in the program at Lexington Avenue Gym.
Speakers also included representatives from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, a PD research organization and Northern Westchester Hospital, which provides support services to PD patients.
What is Rock Steady Boxing?
The mission of Rock Steady Boxing is to empower people with PD to fight back—literally. It is a non-contact boxing-based fitness curriculum. It was started in 2006 and has grown from 60 affiliates worldwide in late 2015 to almost 700 today with more than 34,000 participants. This explosive growth was in part due to a feature story about the program on “60 Minutes” in 2015 and growing publicity worldwide. Lexington Avenue Gym is the only affiliate in Northern Westchester and its coaches have been specially trained to support the program. The gym’s program, which began almost three years ago, currently has 35 members.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
PD is a progressive neurological disorder caused when certain brain cells stop working properly. Over time, PD patients have increasing difficulty controlling their movements. More than one million Americans have PD and 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Symptoms may include tremors, weakness and fatigue, muscle stiffness, poor posture, speech problems and balance issues. Some symptoms can be controlled with drugs, but no medications developed to date can arrest or reverse the disease.
There is a lot of research and drug development thanks in large part to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which has raised and invested over $800 million in PD research, including $100 million this year alone.
What can PD patients do to fight back at the disease?
There are many approaches to mitigate the effects of PD on patients’ lives. It is critical to continue to socialize with other sufferers. Diet can also have a positive effect on symptoms. But the most effective thing a PD patient can do is exercise regularly.
Of all forms of exercise, why boxing?
Boxing has proven to enhance functioning for people with PD. It improves patients’ stability and balance, flexibility and posture, mobility and strength. In addition to the exercises and activities, the experience of boxing is challenging. It can be intense work, but it is also fun and there is great camaraderie and support as classes grow together. Participants range from young men to slim elderly women, and most of them are astounded at what they are able to accomplish.
For more information, contact Nina Preizler, Owner and Coach of Lexington Avenue Gym at 914-241-2657. You can also contact Veronica Cea of the Northern Westchester Hospital PD Support Group at 914-458-8761. Learn more about rock Steady Boxing at rocksteadyboxing.org and learn more about Parkinson's Disease at michaeljfox.org.