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Center offers boxing to improve seniors’ health

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OXFORD — Seniors with a New Year’s resolution to improve overall health and fight against the progression of Parkinson’s disease are being offered a conditioning program that increases flexibility and improves agility, speed, muscular endurance, hand-eye coordination and core strength.

Rock Steady Boxing was introduced to the area in late summer, with the Granville County Senior Center in Oxford becoming one of 852 affiliates of the nationwide program.

Approximately 15 local participants are already enrolled in RSB sessions each week, says Senior Services’ Fitness Program Coordinator Justin Waller, and more are welcome to attend.

Parkinson’s is a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that can cause deterioration of motor and sensory skills, impacting balance, movement and speech. According to Parkinson’s News Today, vigorous exercise such as running, riding a bicycle — or even boxing — is key to disease prevention.

For the more than 60,000 patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year, exercise such as the regimen provided through the Rock Steady Boxing method, studies show, can ward off changes in the brain caused by aging while increasing oxygen delivery.

Every Monday at 1:30 p.m., participating seniors learn boxing basics as Waller facilitates these noncontact fitness sessions to help seniors improve daily activities and “fight back” against the disease.

“Granville County Senior Services became a RSB affiliate in 2019 after Justin traveled to Colorado to attend the Affiliate Training Camp program,” explained Kathy May, Senior Services Director. “This specialized training included hands-on classes for Justin to learn to conduct a class and scale for every ability level.”

May adds that Waller was already “ahead of the game” when he attended the training camp, since he has an undergraduate degree in exercise science from UNC-Chapel Hill as well as a master’s degree in exercise physiology from UNC-Greensboro. He also has years of experience in the field of exercise and nutrition.

Rock Steady Boxing’s goal is to educate as many people as possible about the benefits of intense exercise and to establish safe and welcoming programs in every community.

Through RSB training, Granville County has joined ongoing nationwide efforts to meet fitness levels at all stages — from preventative measures to those who have been living with Parkinson’s symptoms for decades — as well as developing a sense of unity in the fight against the disease.

To learn more about the Rock Steady Boxing program offered by Granville County Senior Services or to register contact the senior center, 107 Lanier St., Oxford, at 919-693-1930.