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    I learned that fear and frustration are natural feelings. I learned to accept my fears and communicate my fears to my wife.

    Support Partner

    by Beth Bullard, OTR, Can Do MS Programs Consultant

    Stay Active and Connected in Winter

    For centuries winter has been identified as a time for reflection and replenishment. It's an opportunity to resolve issues, create resolutions and look forward to the prospects of a new year. What better time than winter to focus on your health and lifestyle.

    The cold and darkness that accompanies the season can have an effect on our motivation and ability to stay active. While it may feel rather appropriate to snuggle under a blanket and wait for spring, the consequences of inactivity can be great.

    Remaining active is vital to personal health. Numerous research studies have concluded that regular physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes, such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, depression, arthritis and falls. Health benefits occur for individuals of any age in every studied racial and ethnic group, and for individuals with disabilities.

    Social connection is equally as important. Research has determined that individuals who have established social connections have a decreased likelihood of having colds, heart attacks, strokes, cancer and depression. They experience less anxiety, distress and hostility. They also have a greater optimistic outlook on life.

    Indulge the unique pleasures winter offers. Strap on some skis or snowshoes and hit your local trails and parks. Grab a pair of walking poles and take in the great outdoors by nordic walking. Play in the snow. When is the last time you made a snow angel?

    Variety is the spice of life as it prevents boredom. Stay active and connected in many ways. Try a fitness class, slip in the pool or get involved in a local bowling league. Volunteer, take a class, or join a civic group.

    If home is where your heart is, then bring the activity to you. Prepare a meal with friends, play with your pets, begin a craft project or host a game night. Avoid social isolation by connecting through social networks or interactive gaming sites. 

    Now is the time to develop your winter activity plan. Try several activities then evaluate for fit and feasibility. If you need help, don’t hesitate to use your resources. Reach out to your health care team, local National MS Society chapters, other MS associations, resorts and community recreation programs.

    Resist the urge to hibernate and discover the joys of the season!

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