Noncontact Boxing Program May Improve Quality of Life for Individuals with Parkinson Disease

  • Movement disorders
  • Parkinson disease

Individuals with Parkinson disease (PD) who participate in a specialized noncontact boxing program may have better quality of life.
The study evaluated Rock Steady Boxing, a noncontact fitness program designed for people with PD. In 90-minute group classes, participants work with a coach on a customized boxing routine to achieve better strength, speed, agility, endurance, hand-eye coordination, footwork, and accuracy. 

Participants completed a survey with questions about their quality of life, including depression, fatigue, and fear of falling.
Most participants reported improvement in several quality of life areas, with 70% having a better social life, 63% reporting less fatigue, 62% feeling less afraid of falling, 60% experiencing improved mood, and 59% feeling less anxious. 

“This demonstrates that Rock Steady Boxing participants have improvement in the nonmotor symptoms of the disease and, compared to nonparticipants, have significantly better quality of life and are more likely to feel confident engaging in continued exercise,” said Danielle Larson, MD, Northwestern University McGaw Medical Center. “Moderate exercise has long been associated with having positive impact on some people with PD, but the outcome of this specific regimen seems particularly favorable for the majority of people,” 

The study involved 1,709 people with PD, average of 69 years. Of the participants, 1,499 people were either current or previous boxing program participants and 210 had never participated. 

Of the participants, 43% attended an average of 3 or more classes per week; 48% attended an average of 2 classes per week; and 9% attended an average of 1 class per week.

Results of the study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology 72nd Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, April 25 - May 1, 2020.

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