Can boxing cause Parkinson disease? Those who want to choose boxing as a leisure pursuit are often concerned about its impacts on their physical well-being. To be specific, its potential risk associated with Parkinson’s disease has generated a great deal of controversy and anxiety among future boxers.
But don’t worry! In this insightful article, we’ll shed light on this matter and help you answer the taxing question: “Can boxing cause Parkinson’s disease”?
Table of Contents
Overview Of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that adversely affects patients’ physical movement. The most common motor manifestations of this chronic brain condition are:
- Rigidity in hands, arms, and legs
- Poor balance
- Impaired limb coordination
This neurodegenerative disorder can also manifest itself in other symptoms, including difficulty with speaking, handwriting, swallowing, or decreased facial expression.
This is a progressive disease, meaning that it often exacerbates over time. If left unchecked, Parkinson’s usually gives rise to severe tremors, slowness, and stiffness in moving, all of which can result in falls, and unfortunately, fatalities. In other cases, patients are either bedridden or confined to their wheelchairs.
Parkinson’s disease happens when specific brain neurons, especially those responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine, fail to function properly and disappear. As the level of dopamine plummets, it disrupts neurological activity and, consequently, interferes with patients’ physical activities.
Can Boxing Cause Parkinson Disease?
To date, neuroscientists can’t conclude whether boxing directly causes Parkinson’s disease or not. But some of them believe boxing can trigger brain injury, which heightens the risk of developing this brain disorder.
To illustrate, in 2006, Dr. Samuel Goldman conducted a study involving 93 pairs of twins. Only one person had Parkinson’s in each pair, and Dr. Goldman examined the differences between them to discover what set off this unfortunate brain condition.
According to him, one head injury can increase the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s. The probability is even higher among those who sustained more than two episodes of brain damage.
Watch this video to hear Dr. Goldman’s in-depth explanation:
That being said, correlation is not causation. There seems to be an association between boxing with diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease, but neurologists have yet to identify the exact physiological mechanisms behind this condition. Therefore, no one knows for sure if this brain disorder is boxing’s occupational hazard.
Special Type Of Boxing For Parkinson’s Disease
Although professional boxing appears to be linked with Parkinson’s, surprisingly, another recreational type of boxing caters explicitly to those afflicted by this neurodegenerative disease.
Unlike veteran boxers who often take destructive punches from their opponents, their casual counterparts can engage in non-combat workouts. In other words, these boxers don’t have to fight with anyone, which eliminates the risk of traumatic brain injury and, consequently, reduces their susceptibility to Parkinson’s disease to a minimum.
Those participating in boxing for Parkinson’s can expect to reap plenty of benefits. High-intensity workouts in general, and this sport in particular, have been shown to have protective effects on nerve cells that produce dopamine.
Read More: Top Boxing Gloves For Beginner Boxer
As a result, non-contact boxing can preserve the much-needed amount of dopamine among older people, which stalls the progression of Parkinson’s disease. But, unfortunately, this positive impact is not experienced by those doing gentle or moderate exercises.
There are other health benefits unique to non-combat boxing as well. First, boxing for Parkinson’s serves to enhance coordination and limb flexibility, which offsets the physical stiffness and postural instability commonly seen among Parkinson’s patients.
Furthermore, this non-combat sport improves speed. For this reason, it minimizes patients’ chances of experiencing slowed movement, a frequent manifestation of this brain disorder.
All in all, non-contact boxing and other types of vigorous workouts can alleviate or delay immobility and muscle rigidity. This enormously raises the quality of life for Parkinson’s disease patients.
What Is The Ultimate Cause Of Parkinson’s Disease?
Unfortunately, the root causes of Parkinson’s and many other degenerative brain disorders remain unknown. However, it is currently thought that the interaction between genetic and environmental factors can set the stage for this syndrome.
Some people are genetically predisposed to Parkinson’s, regardless of whether they practice boxing or not.
In addition, poisonous chemicals, including iron and lead, are believed to make senior citizens more vulnerable to Parkinson’s disease, although results from neurological studies remain inconclusive.
Rural dwellers, especially farmers, can also be prone to this chronic brain condition due to their cumulative exposure to herbicides and insecticides, which are loaded with potentially harmful synthetic chemicals. But again, the scientific evidence is not robust enough to back up this claim.
By the end of this article, you have probably found the necessary information to answer “Can boxing cause Parkinson’s disease”? While no scientist has established a definitive causal relationship between competitive boxing and this brain syndrome, attending non-combat boxing classes should be a complete no-brainer if you wish to keep Parkinson’s disease at bay.