Heat sensitivity is common in much of the MS population. This can mean that in the hotter summer months people with MS feel more fatigued, weaker and may feel that their MS symptoms are worse. This can make it hard to exercise. Coming into summer it is important to prepare for the higher temperatures so that you can keep yourself moving and enjoying life.
If you are not already involved in an exercise program it is important that you know how much you can manage comfortably. Know your limits. During exercise, MS symptoms can appear worse, especially as core temperature increases. These symptoms are often temporary and should resolve within thirty minutes of rest. It is always advisable to start your program in consultation with a physiotherapist who understands your condition. From there you can then increase your program slowly and modify it in the summer months if necessary. If after any exercise program a temporary increase in MS symptoms has not resolved in 30 minutes then it may be a sign that you worked too hard or for too long.
Choosing the right type of exercise for you and your activity level is really important. Buddying up with a friend or family member can be a great way to keep moving and motivated. Consider some gentle, weight-free movements at the local pool, using a stationary exercise bike while watching your favourite TV program in front of the fan, or even a seated yoga session at our gym.
Timetable your exercise in during the cooler parts of the day or somewhere you have access to air conditioning and good ventilation. Grab your buddy for some early morning activity or choose the early part of the evening.
Always make sure to keep up your hydration. The average person looses up to two litres of fluid in the heat. If you become dehydrated this can not only impair your performance it can also make cooling down even harder. Be sure to drink before, during and after any exercise program.
Enjoying a regular exercise program has been shown to reduce activity limitation and to maintain function, this means exercising all year round. So be smart this summer and beat the heat!