Beware of getting into hot water

The term "hot water" has a whole new meaning when it comes to people with MS. Even small increases in body temperature of only 0.5°C can result in a worsening of symptoms. People with MS must be extra careful to avoid overheating while exercising.

General tips for keeping cool are:

  • Before exercise, cool your feet and legs in a tepid bath for 20 to 30 minutes. This will prevent your body temperature from rising above normal during physical ctivity. If a bathtub is unavailable, take a cool 20-minute shower. Also try running cold water over your wrists for 3 to 5 minutes when no showers, tubs or pools are available.
  • Wear lightweight shoes.
  • Dress in layers so that you can remove clothing as you exercise.
  • During exercise, wear cooling headbands, vests, or neck wraps. Simple "home-made" cooling garments can be made by sewing pockets onto clothing and putting "blue ice" gel packs into the pockets.
  • Refresh yourself with sprays of water from a plastic bottle.
  • Include rest periods in your workout.
  • Have cold drinks on hand and sip them to prevent overheating or dehydration. Keep in mind that you should drink about one cup (250 mL or 8 ounces) of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise. If you drink coffee, caffeinated tea, soft drinks or alcohol, you will need to drink even more fluids since these beverages can cause you to go to the bathroom more often and lose more water.
  • Consider aquatic activities in water that is ideally 26° to 29°C, or 80° to 84°F.
  • Exercise indoors (ideal room temperature less than 21°C or 70°F) or outdoors only when the weather is cool. Avoid outdoor activities between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.
  • Use air conditioners, electric fans, or a battery-powered handheld mini-fan.
  • Alter the time of day of your workout.
  • Take time to cool down and rest after your workout.
  • Avoid spending time in hot, steamy locker rooms.

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