Boxing for Parkinson’s disease is growing in popularity: ‘You’ll feel your strength again’

Elements of boxing help slow down the disease process. (Photo: Robert Van Cleef)

Boxing for Parkinson’s disease is possible in more and more places in the Netherlands. It can help people with the infection gain more control of their illness because elements of exercise help slow the disease process. This sport came from the United States and can now also be played in Leiden. A number of patients meet regularly at Haven’s boxing gym and feel like fish in water.

A small club of Parkinson’s sufferers gathers weekly around trainer Harm Visers at the boxing school. After a short warm-up, boxing gloves are put on and the first punches fall. against the punching bag, not against each other. There is also sparring in pairs, but there is no hitting the body. “You will feel your strength again,” says participant Margaret. “Because your strength is actually slowly but surely disappearing. And if you are here in boxing, you can conquer the whole world.”

broken cells
Parkinson’s disease causes the cells that make dopamine in your brain to slowly break down. This can cause all kinds of complaints, such as difficulty moving and problems with thinking. Medications can relieve the stiffness, slowness, and tremors, but they can’t stop it. Boxing for Parkinson’s disease was developed specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease. Central to this is that boxing exercises take place without physical contact.

“In addition, we often double-task, so you can do many things at the same time,” says trainer Harm Vissers. “This is often difficult for people with Parkinson’s disease, and that’s exactly what makes these training sessions so valuable. Because with boxing you do many things at the same time: for example, you deliver punches, and then you move at the same time.”

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for the delay
“Your whole body is moving,” says participant Caroline. “I came here to keep in shape because walking is very difficult. I can also do these double tasks here. That boxing and counting at the same time is very difficult.”

According to neurologist Bas Blum from RadbouwMC in Nijmegen, boxing can slow down Parkinson’s disease. “Boxing is of course something where you have to keep your balance, keep an eye on the opponent, and also throw punches. So boxing is an excellent sport for those dual tasks.”

Leiden Mathematical Society

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