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Parkinson's Patients Turn To Boxing Class To Fight Back Against Debilitating Disease

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- People sometimes think of boxing as the cause of Muhammad Ali's Parkinson's disease, but a certain boxing class may actually help people with the disease fight back against the debilitating condition.

A patient named Jennifer Parkinson co-founded an organization to do just that.

As CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reports, once the class begins it doesn't let up. It's called Neuroboxing, and it's a class helping Parkinson's patients regain the movement their disease has stolen.

"We go through all sorts of modalities of exercise from functional training, core work, balance work,"Neuroboxing co-founder Josh Ripley said.

Parkinson's disease is a nervous system disorder that affects the body's ability to move. Parkinson was diagnosed at just at just 32-years-old and turned to boxing, hoping to minimize symptoms like tremors in her hand.

"After months of this, I started feeling better, started getting more energy back, moving better," she tells CBS2.

She says all these patients have seen similar benefits. Still, many are also there for something else.

"They're coming because they're part of a community we've created here," she said. "They want to be here with these people they connect with, they've made these friendships with."

Ben Swanson says that's what's kept him coming back. The 37-year-old joined the class six months ago.

"The exercise itself I have found is the best way to battle the disease and to be here, you can feel the power in the room, the vitality," the Parkinson's patient said.

It gives everyone in the class a way to fight back.

Studies have shown that Parkinson's patients can benefit from some type of movement exercise, but it doesn't have to be boxing -- it can be aerobics, mall walking, yoga, or even tai chi. Dancing and jazzercise can even do the trick.

Experts say the most important thing is to find the activity you enjoy.

CBS2 reports that nearly one million people in the United States are living with Parkinson's disease.

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