LACONIA — Exercise is important for anyone's health, but for people with Parkinson's disease, keeping to an exercise regimen is specifically recommended. It can be difficult, dangerous or even embarrassing for Parkinson's sufferers to engage in typical workouts, though, and that's why Janine Page, owner of the Downtown Gym, is bringing an exercise program to Laconia designed specifically for people with Parkinson's.
Parkinson's disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement, with symptoms that include tremors, slowed movement and impaired balance. The Mayo Clinic says that exercise helps people with Parkinson's by increasing muscle strength, flexibility and balance, as well as reducing anxiety and depression. However, once the disease progresses to the point where tremors become visible, a person afflicted with the disease might feel uncomfortable exercising in a gym where others are present, and the loss of balance could make walking or jogging risky. Responding to these challenges, the program Rock Steady Boxing was developed ten years ago in Indiana by former Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman, who was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's when he was 40. He developed the program for himself, and found that the workout, using many of the same exercises that boxers use to train for bouts, improved his quality of life.
Rock Steady Boxing participants engage in rigorous exercise that emphasizes gross motor movement, balance, core strength and rhythm, which some studies suggest could slow the progression of the disease. Even if the program doesn't battle Parkinson's, it allows people to work out together in a supportive atmosphere, which will certainly have a positive effect on their physical health.
"We know exercise is good for everyone," she said. For people with Parkinson's, she added that Rock Steady Boxing is, "a safe environment where people can be challenged within their capabilities." Page has already had several people reach out to her to express their interest in the program, and she welcomes participants of all abilities, from people recently diagnosed with the disease to people who require the use of a wheelchair.
She plans to have two classes each week, exclusive for people with Parkinson's and volunteers there to support them. The classes will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and at 6:15 on Thursdays. Page said participants will be charged an "affordable rate." An information meeting is scheduled for January 25 at 5:30 p.m.
Page, who recently returned from Indianapolis, where she trained at the Rock Steady gym, said that she knew she wanted to bring the program to Laconia from the moment she learned about it. For her, exercise isn't simply about blood pressure and muscle mass, it's about being in control of one's own well-being. And that's what she saw when she was learning about Rock Steady Boxing.
"You're giving them the tools so they can be empowered," she said. "It's so beautiful for people to get their lives back."
Janine Page, owner of the Downtown Gym in Laconia, is adding a boxing-based exercise program, designed for people with Parkinson's disease to her gym. An informational meeting is scheduled for Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)
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