While many grandmothers would be content to stay home and enjoy a laid-back pastime, Nancy Van Der Stracten of Antalya, Turkey, is taking a vastly different approach to her golden years.
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Three days a week, she heads to the gym to work out. She usually warms up with a walk on the treadmill before turning to her favorite sport of all: boxing.
You read that right. This powerhouse is 75 years old and has eight grandchildren. Ten years ago, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative brain disorder that causes shaking, stiffness, and other problems related to walking and maintaining balance and coordination. There’s no cure for Parkinson’s, and the condition generally worsens over time.
Nancy wasn’t about to sit around and wait for her symptoms to increase. “My doctor said one day, it is forbidden to you to sit down,” she explained. “Go on, go on, go on. And that is my counsel to everybody. Go out to sport and do something that you like.”
In an attempt to “move, move, move,” Nancy headed to a gym to research exercises that might help her manage her disease. As soon as she discovered non-contact boxing, she was hooked!
Non-contact boxing means Nancy practices her punches with an opponent who wears padded gloves. She never takes any hits, so it’s a safe way to get cardiovascular exercise that stimulates her brain as well as her body.
Neurologist Geysu Karlikaya explained that boxing is actually the perfect exercise for someone with Parkinson’s, even if they’re a bit older than your typical athlete.
“Studies have shown that non-contact boxing is good for the brain, so it is good for the Parkinson’s disease,” she said. “Will it cure Parkinson’s disease? Probably not because it is a neurodegenerative disorder… but it does improve the quality of life for patients.”
Since she started her boxing routine, Nancy said her symptoms have reduced, and she feels better immediately after working out!
When she first stepped into the gym, everyone turned around to stare at the granny in boxing gloves. Once they got over the shock, her Turkish gym friends, who are “gentle from the heart,” became her biggest supporters. They even gave her a nickname: “Auntie Naciye.”
These days, she’s a permanent fixture in the gym and has no shortage of sparring partners!
Nancy wants everyone to know that the secret to staying healthy is to move your body every day. She encourages others to find a sport they like and go for it!
What great advice from one very tough woman! Learn more about her in the video below, and don’t forget to share this story to inspire your friends.
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