Boxing training may help people with Parkinson’s disease

PHOENIX – Valley Parkinson’s patients are turning to non-contact boxing to help punch back at their disease.

Scottsdale resident Steve Shenkman, 66, knows moves such as a jab, cross and hook well. Doctors diagnosed Shenkman with Parkinson’s disease six years ago, and he boxes two to three times a week to help ease his symptoms.

“You can’t let the disease define you,” Shenkman said. “You have to define what you are going to do.”

Steve Shenkman trains with Nicole Greene at Edge Fitness in Scottsdale. Shenkman has been doing boxing for more than a year to help minimize the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. (Photo by Johanna Huckeba/Cronkite News)

Parkinson Wellness Recovery, a Tucson-based nonprofit that promotes rehabilitation, exercise and wellness programs for those with the disease, offers certificates in wellness recovery. Certified trainers in boxing are becoming more popular in the Valley.

Boxing experts say the sport builds stamina, helps with balance and engages the mind. The exercise can help people with Parkinson’s disease, which causes a person’s balance and movement to deteriorate over several years.

As many as one million Americans are diagnosed with the disease, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.

Shenkman found a trainer a year ago.

“I forget that I have Parkinson’s when I am doing that,” Shenkman said.

Dr. Holly Shill, the director of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix, said people often associate the disease with tremors. “But it is far more than…

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