Exercise and staying cool thought to be incompatible. For those of us with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) the need to stay cool can present a major barrier to fitness. Not knowing if heating up will trigger an attack can keep even a fitness fanatic away from the gym. At the same time being fit may be one of the tools you use to help manage and live with the disease. So how does one remain cool while things are heating up?
The simplest way to beat the heat while exercising is to work out in a cool pool. My chosen method started with swimming laps at the community pool. I started with a few in the morning, a few at lunch, and then a few more in the evening. I took my time, monitoring my body temperature throughout my workout. If things started to heat up I had a cool bottle of water on the side of the pool that I could pour over my head.
Over time my body became accustomed to exercising and I was able to increase both distance and intensity. My overall health improved and I no longer felt tired all of the time. I had managed to my build fitness level up enough that I felt confident trying to exercise outside of the pool.
Next on my list, circuit training: a combination of cardio and strength training. Overheating was a real possibility. Armed with my water bottle, my new found fitness, and a keen sense of adventure I joined a circuit training class. After a 10 minute warm-up I cautiously worked my way around the room, one minute weight lifting, the next cardio training. This went on for about half an hour and then onto the mats for a core work out and cool down.
Throughout the class I monitored my body’s response to this new exercise and my body temperature. My water bottle was always nearby and I adjusted my effort as needed. I attended classes 3 times a week rewarding myself with a cool shower after each class. I haven’t looked back since.
Swimming is one form of exercise that can be used to bring up one’s fitness level and stay cool. Aqua–fit and aqua-jogging are two others.
If you are someone using a water sport to battle your disease I encourage you to contact me so we can share your story with others.