With less daylight and colder temperatures it can be a challenge to stay active and maintain your fitness in the winter. By understanding your symptoms and using some creativity, you can have fun and maintain your fitness goals during the winter.
If balance and/or spasticity are challenging for you, look for activities that allow you to stabilize your body through the use of seats, outriggers, straps and partners. Dress warmly as shivering can increase your spasticity.
If strength is a challenge, choose activities that can be done while seated or use wheels, gears or partners.
If you’re heat sensitive and live in northern states where the air temperature is cold, it’s important to pay attention to your body temperature. It’s easy to over heat when wearing too many clothes in the winter. Your increased body temperature will cause some of your symptoms to worsen until your body temperature returns to normal. For those of you who live in southern states and are heat sensitive, winter is the best time to be outside as you can exercise without your cooling vests. Appropriate layering of clothing to control your body temperature is important for everyone when exercising outside in the winter.
Winter is the time to use videos for indoor workouts. Videos are available for all levels of fitness that address balance, strength, flexibility and endurance for those who are able to walk or need seated exercise or partner-assisted exercise.
• Adapted ski programs at ski areas offer outriggers to assist balance and strength, as well as seated skiing. Find an adapted sport program in your area at www.sitski.com.
• Snowmobiling can be good exercise for trunk strength and balance.
• Ask friends to include you in ice fishing.
• Find a local dog-sledding club and ask if they will give you a ride.
• Call the local ice rink to see if they offer adapted ice skating.
• Curling clubs offer adapted curling, both standing and seated. Find out more at www.usacurling.org.
Enjoy the cooler time of year.
Greg Farmer, M.S., M.P.T., is a physical therapist at St. Alphonsus Rehabilitation Services in Boise, Idaho and is a Can Do MS Programs Consultant.