Last time we talked about the heat in general. This week we would like to approach the subject of physical activity when the temperature starts to soar. Exercising outdoors might be fun and enjoyable, especially after being cooped up inside for a while. However, people living with MS need to take some precautions to avoid overheating when the temperatures start to climb up. Some people have extreme intolerance to heat, and therefore, comes spring – they take all activities indoors, including exercise and any other form of physical activity. They prefer to stay in a cold room and keep the AC going until outside temps start to cool down again.
The first step, as always, is to discuss the issue of exercising during the summer with the healthcare team. They might have some suggestions or specific instructions based on your medical history, symptoms, fitness level, etc.
If you got the ”Go ahead” from your physician and plan to take your activities outdoors, you need to think forward and plan ahead: you probably want to go out at the more refreshing times of the day, usually in the early morning or late evening hours. Also, avoid pushing yourself beyond your personal limits and make sure to take a break or stop when your body calls for it.
Additionally, be adequately hydrated at all times. The consequences of overheating can be severe, as discussed last previously. You might want to apply some methods to help reduce the effects of overheating: either while exercising, afterward or both. Some recommend using devices such as cooling towels or vests while engaged in physical activity and some like to wrap cold bandanas around the neck.
Equally important, if you still feel overheated once you are done exercising, use whatever method that works best for you to bring your body temperature down. Some suggest tepid to cold bath or showers, and others like to use bags of frozen peas (or beans) to keep cool.