This is a tough one for me as I find it hard exercise without a ‘purpose’ – swimming is arguably the best exercise for people with MS – the nervous system can stay cool while the muscles get a work out – but I hate swimming laps. I enjoy snorkelling or scuba diving because that’s swimming with a ‘purpose’. Unfortunately the snorkelling and diving in Toowoomba is lousy. When I’m feeling okay in the leg department I do try to walk more than I do on the ‘bad’ days, simply following the rule, “if you don’t use it, lose it”. The important thing is not to overdo it.
With any exercise, Nursie Mel says there is a ‘two hour rule’ – if you do exercise and two hours after feel as good as before starting, that exercise was good for you – if you feel worse after two hours, you’ve overdone it. Here are a few tips I whipped off another website:
- Always warm up before, and cool down after exercise
- If you allocate 30 minutes for regular exercise, start with 10 minute sessions and work up from there
- If balance is an issue, exercise near a rail or bar (I don’t think they mean one in a hotel – that could result in a literal ‘pub crawl’)
- Avoid slippery floors, areas with poor lighting and rugs or other things that might trip you up
- Choose an exercise that you enjoy – swimming, water aerobics, tai chi, yoga etc
- If you begin to feel sick or it starts to hurt, STOP!
Some people with MS are sensitive to heat and, naturally, body heat will rise when exercising. A few tips on overheating:
- Exercise early morning or late afternoon to avoid the hot time of the day
- Drink lots of cool fluids
- ‘Listen’ to your body – if symptoms pop up that weren’t there before you started exercising, slow down or stop until you cool down
- Again, swimming and water aerobics are good exercise options but be careful of slippery floors near the pool or in the change rooms
While trolling around the web I found a site that recommended sunbaking for people with MS. And that lack of exposure to the sun (Vitamin D) could be a cause of MS. This was based on statistics that more people in Tasmania are diagnosed than in warmer parts of the country. I grew up in Gundagai, a town that can have hot, dry summers. We had our annual holidays at the beach in Sydney and I lived in Sydney from age 11 to 45 (before spending three years in Vanuatu). So the cooler climes have no bearing on my diagnosis.
And because I grew up in sunny Australia, I had a nasty squamous cell carcinoma removed (in 2009). Sunbaking may be fine in Scandinavia, but in Australia it can be deadly. I’d rather have MS as abbreviation for Multiple Sclerosis than a Melanoma Sentence.
Having said that, here’s a link to a calculator that tells you healthy levels of exposure to the sun. You need to enter the time of day, day, month, latitude & longitude (you can get this from Google Maps), the sky condition (cloudy etc) and your skin type – and voila! For me to get the required dose in Cairns on a sunny day could be 2 minutes while in Melbourne on an overcast day it would be 39 minutes. http://nadir.nilu.no/~olaeng/fastrt/VitD-ez_quartMED.html
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