Noncontact Boxing Workout Improves QOL, Workout Adherence

March 17, 2020

A special, noncontact boxing program was shown to potentially improve quality-of-life (QOL) and likelihood of exercise among patients with Parkinson disease compared with those who did not participate, according to preliminary study findings originally to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 72nd Annual Meeting.

A special, noncontact boxing program was shown to potentially improve quality-of-life (QOL) and likelihood of exercise among patients with Parkinson disease (PD) compared with those who did not participate, according to a preliminary study.

In the study findings originally to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 72nd Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, before it's cancellation due to COVID-19, researchers sought to examine Rock Steady Boxing (RSB), a nonprofit, noncontact fitness program designed for people with PD (PwP). Recent studies have demonstrated the impact of workout programs in PwP; Tai Chi and Table Tennis are proven effective at slowing down disease progression.

For this workout program, PwP underwent a 90-minute group class with a coach on a tailored boxing routine that promoted improvements in strength, speed, agility, endurance, hand-eye coordination, footwork, and accuracy. These benefits look to improve upon slowly worsening symptoms in PD, such as tremor, stiff limbs, and impaired posture that can inhibit a PwP’s ability to work during recurrence.

The intervention program involved 1709 PwP (mean age, 69 years; 59% male; 96% caucasian) who completed a 20-minute, 61-question anonymous survey on SurveyMonkey, which included the Parkinson Disease Questionnaire-39 (PDQ-39) and the Self Efficacy for Exercise (SEE) Scale. The survey was distributed to participants via email and social media by RSB Inc. and the Parkinson Foundation from July 2018 to February 2019.

Participant and nonparticipant demographics and assessment outcomes were analyzed using chi-squared test or Fisher’s exact test for categorical variables and Wilcoxon test for continuous variables. Of the study cohort, 1333 were current participants, 166 were former participants, and 210 never participated in RSB. Compared with nonparticipants, a higher percentage of participants were retired (76% vs 65%; P <.01) and married/partnered (85% vs 80%; P = .03). There was no significant difference in years since PD diagnosis or movement disorders specialist use (66% vs 62%, respectively).

Based on study results, current RSB participants had better PDQ-39 scores (25 vs 32; P <.01) and better SEE scores (54 vs 48; P <.01), indicating better QOL and exercise adherence. Additionally, the majority of participants reported improvements in social life (70%), fatigue (63%), fear of falling (62%), depression (60%), and anxiety (59%).

The researchers highlight that 99% of current and 94% of previous participants stated they would recommend RSB to others with PD.

Study author Danielle Larson, MD, neurologist at Northwestern University McGaw Medical Center in Chicago and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, noted that although moderate exercise has long been associated with having a positive impact on PwP, “the outcome of this specific regimen seems particularly favorable for the majority of people,” said Larson. "This demonstrates that Rock Steady Boxing participants have improvement in the nonmotor symptoms of the disease and, compared to nonparticipants, have significantly better quality of life and are more likely to feel confident engaging in continued exercise."

Reference

Larson D, Bega D, Yeh C, Rafferty M. Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) participants with Parkinson’s disease have better quality of life and lower burden of non-motor symptoms than non-participants [published online March 4, 2020]. Presented at: The American Academy of Neurology’s 72nd Annual Meeting; April 25-May 1, 2020; Toronto, Canada. Abstract S41.006. index.mirasmart.com/AAN2020/PDFfiles/AAN2020-001210.html.