DOTHAN, AL. (WTVY) - About a million Americans suffer from Parkinson's disease, with 60,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
A new program at Southeast Health is helping some in the Wiregrass fight back against the progressive nerve disease.
"Exercise is just as important for them as their medication, and not just any exercise but high intensity exercise," said Health Fitness Specialist Sameka Parks.
These stage 1 and 2 Parkinson's patients gather together at the Rehab Facility three times a week.
"It's been absolutely tremendous for me. When I came first three years ago, I was so depressed and down-hearted. When I found out I had Parkinson's, it seemed to be the end of the world," said Kathy Martin.
The new wellness program is called Rock Steady Boxing where besides boxing patients do stretching, weights, cardio, and other calisthenics.
"This also provides an area of a small support group," continued Parks. "They encourage each other and are looking for each other when they're not in class. So this is a great atmosphere to be in to fight back against Parkinson's."
Many of the patients say their condition has improved because of the program. The program also teaches that exercise has to be a lifestyle for Parkinson's sufferers, no matter what their condition.
So that's why there are several ones offered for all stages and levels of fitness.
"There are so many different classes they have. They have ones that you start off, slower classes, and then you just work your way up," continued Martin. "So don't be afraid to work your way up because you can. You can do it! Just do it!"
The class is guided by several health specialists to make sure each patient gets the most benefit from the class and a serves as a roadmap for life.
Kathy also tells us she has improved her balance and walking ability since she started Rock Steady Boxing.