Power of exercise in Parkinson's management

Did you know that research suggests that exercising is one of the best ways to manage Parkinson’s symptoms? In fact, kickboxing has been gaining traction worldwide as a go-to activity for those with Parkinson’s. What can it help with? It turns out that it can help improve motor skills, balance and strength, and alleviate symptoms.  

Kickboxing for Parkinson’s has reached all corners of the globe. Inspired by successful martial arts and boxing programs established in the United States, Parkinson’s nurse Beate Schönwald, decided the same programs should be available in her home country of Germany, over 4000 miles away. And so the “Kick-Parkinson” project was born - a kickboxing group for people with Parkinson’s.  

PDCare & SYMBYX Neuro Bundle
PDCare & SYMBYX Neuro Bundle

SYMBYX team member, Ann, had the privilege of meeting Beate and the group in April, to hear about how kickboxing has changed the lives of its members. For example, hear from Karin below.  

*Please note that the following interview was translated from German.  


How kickboxing helped Karin’s Parkinson’s 

Karin: My name is Karin, and I am 68 years old. I've had the diagnosis of Parkinson's for three years now. It started with me feeling that driving was tiring with my right leg. Initially, I thought it was a muscle cramp or weakness, which I tried to treat with oil, but that naturally didn't work. Then I went to physiotherapy, and she immediately suggested I undergo a neurological examination, which led to the diagnosis.  

It was a shock for me, of course. About a year later, I received this diagnosis and was completely devastated. What I did then was to start taking these pills. I initially retreated. But then I started thinking that movement was very important to me, as I had been active before.  

So I resumed my activities. My sports group approached me and encouraged me to come back.  

Then, about a year later, I read about Parkinson's kickboxing, and since then, I've been here, and I have to say that movement, this rapid movement, is very important to me. I think movement is more important than medication for Parkinson's. 

Ann: Do you have any advice for someone who has just been diagnosed on how to approach it? 

Karin: I don't have much advice. I have always been very athletic, doing sports 2-3 times a week, so it was natural for me to continue and even expand it to other activities. So: movement, movement, movement! 

Ann: And is the kickboxing group also well connected outside of doing sport together? 

Karin: We have a WhatsApp group where everyone writes from time to time. But otherwise, I know few people outside of this group who have Parkinson's. This group is the only connection to Parkinson's for me. 

Ann: Do you feel like this was the first Parkinson's group that specifically focused on it? Did it help you cope better with the situation, or did you experience a different form of support because of it? 

Karin: Yes, I finally met people who also have Parkinson's, are of my age, and appreciate movement and activity. 

Ann: You probably first heard about SYMBYX from Beate. Are there any symptoms you've researched where you hope it can help? 

Karin: I feel like I'm pretty early in my Parkinson's progress, and I hope I can stop it with this. The only thing that would be important to me would be walking. When I walk, I sometimes feel like I have to take an intermediate step and movement, then it becomes smoother again. 

Ann: What about sleep and digestion? 

Karin: I don't have such big problems with sleep and digestion. I only sleep about 5 hours or so; I'm guaranteed to be awake at half past five, and then the day begins. 

Kickboxing and light therapy 

What’s better than just kickboxing for Parkinson’s? Kickboxing and light therapy for Parkinson’s. There’s a growing body of research suggesting the joint benefits of exercise and light therapy - for example, Dr Joyce Ramos, accredited exercise physiologist, is currently overseeing a trial at Flinders University.  

This is why SYMBYX is so excited to share our recent collaboration with Beate Schönwald. Over the course of 16 weeks, the kickboxing group will use SYMBYX laser treatment alongside regular kickboxing sessions, under the supervision of Beate. The participants will fill out a questionnaire at the different stages of the program. 

Watch this space for updates on this initiative!  

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