Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disease that effects nearly a million Americans.

There is no cure but there is a way some Anchorage residents are fighting back with a gym program that’s been shown to improve some of the disease’s most troubling symptoms.

The Rock Steady Boxing program was developed in Indiana in 2006. Gym Owner Bonnie Murphy brought the program to Anchorage in 2018 offering twice a week classes to people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers.

Murphy said the non-contact boxing moves help with things like strength, balance and coordination — the things that Parkinson’s patients struggle with. While exercise is good for anyone, Murphy said, it seems to offer special benefits for people with Parkinson’s.

“Parkinson’s is the only disease that they actually say, exercise, exercise, exercise,” Murphy said. "I mean all diseases should be exercised, but Parkinson’s is one they have done research on and they actually realized it does help.”

Kin Busse says she's seen big improvements in the symptoms of her disease

Kim Busse said it’s helped her. Busse was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2010 and said at first she was too depressed to exercise. She started coming to the Spenard gym about a year ago to take Rock Steady classes and called the results remarkable.

“I just have seen such improvement over the last year, it’s been amazing,” Busse said. “My self-confidence is back, my strength, my coordination, my balance. We work on all those things here. It’s just been fantastic.”

Murphy said she doesn’t know if the exercise program can reverse the symptoms of Parkinson’s but she believes it can stop people from getting worse.

Busse said the classes can help in another way, offering support to people who are fighting the same disease.

For more information on Parkinson’s resources in Alaska, visit the American Parkison Disease Association website.

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