Punch against Parkinson’s, boxing grandmother fights for her health


ANTALYA, Turkey, March 3 (Reuters) – Putting on shiny gloves and purple sneakers, Nancy Van Der Stracten, 75, steps into the boxing ring and begins battling severe symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Six years after her diagnosis, the Belgian who lives in Turkey discovered by chance the benefits of non-contact boxing while researching the disease. Since then, she has perfected her punches by going to the gym three times a week.

“It doesn’t stop your Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease. It never stops but you can… slow it down,” Van Der Stracten said at a gymnasium in the Mediterranean province of Antalya where she has been living for 15 years.

Non-contact boxing involves no punches, so there is no risk of head trauma.

Known affectionately to locals as “Aunt Naciye,” she said when she first entered the boxing ring, people stared at the eight-year-old grandmother with her mouth open. because they weren’t used to seeing women his age in the ring.

Nancy Van Der Stracten, 75, with Parkinson’s disease, poses as she practices boxing at a boxing club in the resort town of Antalya, Turkey on February 26, 2021. Photo taken on February 26, 2021. REUTERS / Umit Bektas

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“If you’re over 50, they really look at you like this, ‘What are you doing here?’ But they are gentle at heart, the Turks. So they let me do it, ”she told Reuters.

Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disease that affects millions of people around the world, produces tremors and stiffness as well as difficulty walking and speaking. Despite limited research, strenuous exercise has been linked to improving the lives of patients.

“Studies have shown that non-contact boxing is good for the brain and therefore good for Parkinson’s disease. Will this cure Parkinson’s disease? Probably not because it’s a neurodegenerative disorder… but it improves the quality of life. for patients, ”said Geysu Karlikaya, neurologist at Medicana Hospital in Istanbul.

Furniture designer and painter Van Der Van Der Stracten said cleaning was easier since she started boxing.

“My doctor once told me that you are forbidden to sit. Come on, go on, go on. And that’s my advice to everyone,” she said. “Go play in sports and do something you love.”

Reporting by Yesim Dikmen; Editing by Dominic Evans and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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