While every individual has a unique game plan for living with Parkinson’s disease (PD), exercise is an important part of the management strategy. Not only is it good for general health, but certain forms of activity can target specific Parkinson’s symptoms. Although one distinct type of exercise isn’t universally recommended for all people with PD, many have gotten hooked on non-contact boxing. A boxing program designed for people with Parkinson’s is sweeping the nation.

This full-body workout focuses on 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 the disease.

Like many types of exercise, boxing can ease a range of PD symptoms. Research suggests, however, that it might be doing even more with participants consistently showing improvements in walking, balance, performance of daily activities and quality of life in people who boxed regularly. Researchers are working to learn more about how exercise benefits people with Parkinson’s and which symptoms respond to which types and levels of activity.

What is boxing for Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s boxing classes are non-combat workouts, meaning you won’t be fighting another person. Classes typically include exercises that help you improve hand-eye coordination, agility, speed, endurance, and strength. It can be modified for all levels of ability from high-active to low-passive such as sitting in a chair vs standing. Its really about the motion rather than dawning boxing gloves and taping the wrists. The reach, the stretch, the rapid flexion and extension.

Older man boxing in gym. Senior man with personal trainer.

Benefits of boxing…

Boxing has received a lot of attention as a form of high intensity exercise with the potential to be engaging and accessible for people with chronic diseases.

A recent study compared boxing training to traditional group exercise on function and quality of life in a group of 31 adults with Parkinson’s disease. The researchers found both groups had improvements in:

  • balance
  • mobility
  • quality of life

While ONLY the boxing group had improvements in gait, velocity, and endurance

While we continue to learn more about Parkinson’s disease and exercise, we do know that living an active lifestyle supports overall health. No matter what kind of exercise you choose — boxing, biking or swimming — if you enjoy it, you’ll be more likely to make it a habit!