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Giving a punch against Parkinson’s disease

CALLAWAY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – Loss of strength, balance and mobility is a problem that people with Parkinson’s disease face every day. Those who suffer say that certain types of exercise help them in their daily activities.

Boxing is an exercise that helps them fight a battle beyond the ring.

“Parkinson’s takes patients and tries to keep them small,” said Dr Bret Lane, a physiotherapist. “He tries to keep them very quiet, he tries to get them to do very small movements.”

A Bay County drill group fires back.

“In a boxing world, you have to use your whole body,” Dr. Lane said. “It breaks them out of it all and retrains the nervous system and lets them know, ‘oh I can move in this high amplitude movement.'”

These boxing classes at Anytime Fitness in Callaway are specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease.

“It teaches you to stand up and move without crossing your feet and just keeping steady,” said personal trainer and performance coach Sam Carithers. “Boxing is really good for the mind-body connection. For people with Parkinson’s disease, it’s really difficult.

These are issues like loss of movement and strength that Greg Ritscher has lived with for 11 years. He said boxing helped him save his Dukes from Parkinson’s disease.

“When I tried it, as someone with Parkinson’s disease, I felt it really helped my movement, my balance,” Ritscher said.

This exercise was his best medicine.

“The best medicine I take for Parkinson’s is not something I get from the medical community; these are the endorphins your brain releases after a very intense workout,” he said.

A fight that Greg has learned to fight outside the gym and in his daily life.

” Something is happening. You lose your balance, but now you’ve taught your brain to recover,” Ritscher said.

He refuses to give up.

“Parkinson’s disease normally takes things away from you. It’s something I’ve learned to do since I had Parkinson’s disease,” he said.

He packs a punch against disease every class and every day.

“After a good class, you feel like you’ve given Parkinson’s one,” Ritscher said.

A battle he says he continues to fight, and he encourages others to do the same.

“You’re going to have Parkinson’s disease for the rest of your life,” Ritscher said. “Might as well find a way to enjoy life and thrive.”

Prosper it will. One step and one punch at a time.

Greg is the founder of 3085 Thrive, a support group for Parkinson’s disease. The group meets the second Monday of each month at Woodlawn Church in Panama City Beach.

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