June 18th, 2024

Dopamine Boxing putting Parkinson’s on the ropes

By Lethbridge Herald on November 25, 2022.

Herald photo by Al Beeber Robin Hood works out with boxing coach Chris Campbell in foreground while Yvonne Grabowsky takes swings at volunteer Caitlyn Bailes during a training session at an open house staged by the Dopamine Boxing Club at Sih-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Centre.

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Parkinson’s disease sufferer Robin Hood believes boxing therapy is improving his quality of life.

Hood is among several people who participate in a program that uses boxing training to combat the effects of their disease.

Parkinson’s disease impacts dopamine production and receptors, says Lethbridge Dopamine Boxing head coach Chris Campbell. With a team of volunteers from the University of Lethbridge, he puts sufferers through a workout which starts with warmups and stretching then advances to tossing a ball around, doing body-weight squats, weight lifting, working out with battle ropes, hitting a speed bag and doing sparring. Ladder drills are also part of workouts.

Campbell said if people aren’t challenged, they aren’t changed with most participants progressing at the same level as a 20-year-old. They just need more rest and 30 seconds less time spent on each round.

Dopamine boxing classes are aimed at improving fine and large motor impairments with focuses on aerobic and strength training, balance, core stability and flexibility.

In conjunction with the boxing club, the local chapter of the Parkinson Association of Alberta staged an open house Friday at Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Centre.

“It seems to help. Any form of exercise is good but boxing seems to work particularly well,” said Hood on Friday after throwing punches at Campbell.

“It helps to take out some of the frustrations and also it’s good to get together with people with the same challenges. Everybody’s at kind of different levels. In this boxing, you can just go at your own speed and do what you can,” added Hood.

Brienne Leclaire, client services co-ordinator with the Parkinson Association for Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, said “exercise is really important for people with Parkinson’s. It’s something that can help manage symptoms, improve strength, balance and just their overall well-being. Community programs are super important for what we do so people have access to in-person exercise programs, access to community programs anywhere that they are,” said Leclaire.

“Parkinson’s is so unique to everybody,” she added. “Everyone’s Parkinson’s is so different. Everyone needs something different to manage their Parkinson’s or live well with Parkinson’s.

“Symptoms are different, progression of the disease is different in everybody. Even your medication regime, timing, all is going to look different depending on your Parkinson’s and other things going on in your life….it can be a tough disease to imagine or even to find that Parkinson’s community where people are like you,” added Leclaire.

“We basically just wanted to fill the gap in programming for people living with Parkinson’s disease,” said Campbell.

Campbell has a background in exercise science and experience working with people who have disabilities and addictions.

He also volunteered for about eight years with former Olympic fighter Rick Duff.

“Pretty quickly the dopamine receptors will die off” in people with the disease, he said,

“Once those start dying off, you see a sharp reduction in ability. Shaking is commonly known as the main thing with Parkinson’s but it’s actually not as common with Parkinson’s as you’d expect,” he added.

One member for 10 years couldn’t put on a shirt by himself but after three months with the club, he could fully dress himself, he said.

“Our workouts, along with the social interactions, help to spike the dopamine and that along with their medication, helps retain these dopamine receptors,” added Campbell.

“From what we’ve seen, a lot of the reduction in capacity is actually the result of inactivity and that can be due to self-isolation from the mood drop-off and just in general, people seem to ostracize people are sick,” he said.

By engaging in physical activity, people can rebuild some of the capacity they had in their youth which translates into the ability to normal activities like cleaning the yard or playing with their grandkids,” said Campbell.

Parkinson’s “can be a little insidious,” he added.

For more information on the program, people can check it out on the web at http://www.lethbridgedopamineboxing.ca or on Facebook or they can email Campbell at lethbridgedopamine@gmail.com

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter

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