Noncontact Boxing Gaining Popularity as Exercise Option for Patients in the US

Noncontact Boxing Gaining Popularity as Exercise Option for Patients in the US

Rock Steady Boxing is a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the quality of life of Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients by providing a venue for exercise through noncontact boxing, a concept designed to boost coordination, motor skills, balance, and speech.

Researchers have found that Parkinson’s patients who exercise at least 2 1/2 hours a week also experience a slower decline in their quality of life.

Noncontact boxing relies on exercises that are largely adapted from boxing drills. Exercises vary in purpose and form, but all are intended to improve agility, speed, muscular endurance, accuracy, hand-eye coordination, footwork, and overall strength.

Since the 1980s, studies have shown how rigorous exercise emphasizing gross motor movement, balance, core strength, and rhythm can favorably impact range of motion, flexibility, posture, gait, and the activities of daily living.

More recent studies have focused on the concept of intense “forced” exercise, suggesting that certain kinds of exercise may be neuroprotective by actually slowing disease progression.

The first Rock Steady Boxing program was founded in Indiana in 2006 by former Marion County Prosecutor Scott C. Newman, who has PD. Since then, the program has spread to dozens of gyms worldwide, according to CBS News.

Recently, the Associated Press featured a story on the Rock Steady Boxing club in Bowling Green, Kentucky. For members of this club, recreation and fellowship are key to helping fight their disease.

Jill Steffey, the Bowling Green coach who is also a full-time public school teacher, launched the Bowling Green chapter in October 2016. She learned about noncontact boxing after her father, who had been living with PD for over a decade, was wheelchair-bound after a back surgery.

Steffey began her own certification process to start a Rock Steady program in the south-central Kentucky area. It’s been a long process, but now Bowling Green has a core group of about 20 fighters.

Programs in other cities have shown similar progress, such as one started a few years ago in New York City. Participants in that program say it has made a “big difference,” both physically and psychologically.

Another goal of Rock Steady Boxing, beyond improving overall fitness, is to provide support for those dealing with PD, as well as for their families and friends, the AP notes.

It’s important to ask a physical therapist about the best type of exercise you can do without injuring yourself.

Learn more about the program here.


  1. Coach Hans says:

    I have PD. Eighteen months ago Rock Steady Boxing MidMichigan opened in Midland,MI. Becoming a RSB fighter and now certified RSB Coach has changed my life! I treat PD as an enemy that I will fight physically and emotionally! I am humbled and honored to work with my fellow fighters as we teach everyone that a full, active life is possible IF they are willing to do the hard work to fight PD! ROCK STEADY, FIGHT BACK! HOORAH!

  2. George Hostick says:

    I have been a Rock Steady Boxer for 10 months here in the Niagara area of Canada. I strongly agree with all of the comments concerning the effects and benefits of the program.We have sessions 3 times a week of 1 hour each. We have a group of 20 to 25 participants and thoroughly enjoy each others company as well as the excellent programs presented by our instructors – both mentally and physically.

  3. Greg Buchan says:

    Yes, I too have to swear by RockSteady boxing. I started boxing at the end of May 2017. Found that my arm swinging and gait has improved. looks like I Will Be a lifer with Rock Steady boxing. I would like to give a huge thank you to all the people whom have started Rock Steady Boxing, all the coaches and volunteers without your generous time we would still be in the dark ages. I also bike ride and kayak too. Exercise of any kind is very good to try and slow down the effects of Parkinson’s diease

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