Medical Expert to Parkinson’s Patients: “Exercise Often More Effective Than Medication”

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Award-winning actor and M*A*S*H* star Alan Alda has revealed he is among the one million Americans living with Parkinson’s disease. As one physician notes, “living” is the operative word in that revelation.

While a Parkinson’s diagnosis may seem like a devastating opponent, neurologist and movement disorders expert, Adena Leder, D.O., contends patients can take back their lives, one punch at a time.

Although medication is often the primary treatment for Parkinson’s disease, research has shown patients may benefit more from an exercise program. However, many struggle to find motivation in treadmills, weights, and stationary bikes. That’s why Leder brought Rock Steady Boxing, a revolutionary national exercise program in the treatment of Parkinson’s, to NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM), where she serves as director of the college’s Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Center.

“We know that exercise is the one thing that may help prevent the progression of Parkinson’s disease,” says Leder. “This program helps them come to the realization that they can live with Parkinson’s disease and still perform the activities they love.”

The vigorous non-contact boxing program engages patients in exercises designed to strengthen areas vulnerable to muscular weakening and coordination loss. Through speed bag work, sparring, and other common boxing moves, the class not only improves symptoms such as tremors and hand shaking, it also reminds boxers they are not alone.

“When they enter the gym, they’re no longer patients – they’re boxers. Boxing takes them out of their home, and lets them see others who share their challenges. They build friendships and find a support system without feeling the need to play the ‘sick role’,” says Leder.  

The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation estimates that 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Although no cure exists, Leder is optimistic these patients can still lead fulfilling lives.

“Everyone copes with their diagnosis differently. While life may take an unexpected turn, it doesn’t need to come to a halt. Treatments like Rock Steady Boxing give patients the drive to keep fighting.”

To request an interview/comment from Dr. Leder, contact Kim Tucker, NYIT Media Relations, at


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