Taking on Parkinson’s Disease—With Boxing Gloves and Punching Bags

One woman explained to me how boxing had helped her: “It makes me feel bad ass. You know, like, I’m not an old lady with Parkinson’s, I’m a boxer. So I like that. That gives me confidence.”

Another fighter agreed, “It gives you a different way to identify yourself.” Boxing provides a more empowering topic for friends and family to ask about than Parkinson’s progression.

For all its positives, boxing does not resonate with everyone. Some cannot get past the sport’s violent nature. Others struggle with facing people in more advanced stages of Parkinson’s and find exposure to them to be too scary when picturing their own futures. Some cannot sort out the logistics of getting to the gym or simply can’t afford the classes. Insurance companies don’t reimburse boxing.

But for many, the gym provides a place to redefine the struggle with Parkinson’s; it gives people a clear plan of action.


Months after smelling the Thai food at the gym, I sat with Moxie and her sister on their front lawn and discussed the results of her most recent clinical evaluation.

Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, she had gone longer between checkups than usual. That wasn’t the only unusual thing about her exam, though. “I’ve actually improved in some domains!” she said happily, handing me a printout of the results.

Moxie continued to deal with painful muscle contractions and other motor complications, but her posture, balance, and cognitive scores were better than a couple of years ago. Her neurological team even asked her to keep notes on her activities and health-related behaviors to help them understand the achievement.

Moxie credits the hard physical work, discipline, learning, and teamwork that she gets from her boxing coach and fellow fighters.

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This was shown first on: https://www.sapiens.org/culture/parkinsons-disease-boxing-brain-plasticity/

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