Boxing and Parkinson’s disease

By Nikki Shaffer

I’ve always loved boxing and kick boxing, and a few years ago I learned how much this type of movement can help Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is a neurological disorder that affects about 1.5 million U.S. citizens. Nerve damage causes a drop in dopamine, resulting in tremors, slowness of movement, A flexed posture, postural instability and rigidity. The brain and body are not communicating. Non-contact boxing is the perfect example of an exercise program that can reduce these symptoms. It’s a full body workout and tests agility, focus, hand-eye coordination and it’s a great stress reliever. A boxer’s training program gets them ready for their opponent – but the opponent is Parkinson’s.

Boxing is almost like a fitness crossword puzzle. Not only are you learning coordination, reaction time, footwork, focus and concentration, you are getting fit as a result. You’re learning an art form and getting better in every aspect of life – in addition to getting fit. I have many clients that don’t have Parkinson’s, but have similar problems that are reduced by using boxing therapy.

Jack (pictured) was my first personal training client that suffered from Parkinson’s disease. After years of functional training, we introduced boxing a little over a year ago. As a result, he walks faster, runs stairs, kills the agility ladder and his tremors are almost nonexistent.

In our area, most people with Parkinson’s go to one of several doctors at MUSC in Charleston. When one of the doctors found out what we were doing, she started telling other patients. To accommodate more people, Fitness Edge has started a Saturday class, from 12:30-1:30 pm, specifically for Parkinson’s patients – and you don’t have to be a member of the gym to attend. Contact us for pricing. We are the only class like this between Mount Pleasant and Wilmington, North Carolina. To minimize the initial investment, I provide all of the equipment until you see if it helps you.

Research has indicated if we catch Parkinson’s in the early years and start boxing training, the onset of symptoms is delayed. Regardless of the stage you are in when you start, boxing training has proven to benefit most patients with Parkinson’s, reducing and even reversing specific symptoms such as balance and tremors (

About this writer

  • Nikki Shaffer

    Nikki Shaffer

    Nikki Shaffer is an AFPA certified personal trainer with nearly a decade of experience and has been with Fitness Edge in Murrells Inlet for five years. Boxing, kick boxing and functional training are her specialties. Nikki was a finalist for Best of Beach in 2016 and 2017, and was awarded Readers’ Choice Top Personal Trainer in 2017. To learn more call 843-318-5322.

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