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Preparing for Winter with MS

By Matt Cavallo


Many of us living with MS welcome a break from the summer heat. The MS relationship with heat is well documented going back to the 1800s and Uhthoff’s phenomenon, however, each season presents its own challenges. In this article, we will identify seasonal challenges and offer simple tips to overcome them.


Fall prevention 

Winter weather conditions increase the risk of falls. The first challenge is the drop in temperature so any precipitation can become more slippery or even ice over. Second, there is low light and shorter days making visibility much harder.

Falls Prevention Tips:

  • Supplies – it is always important to have enough supplies to make it through a storm, especially a snow storm. As someone living with MS, being prepared means not having to fight those grocery store lines on the eve of a snowstorm. Watch the weather and plan appropriately in advance.
  • Winterize – each season you should perform the proper maintenance. This includes changing your air filters and making sure that you have weather-proof, slip-proof mats for your doorways and salt for your walk and driveways.
  • Protective Gear – make sure that you have the proper footwear and other gear specially made for the season. It is important to have shoes with good treads. Worn out treads can lead to increased falls risk.

 

Eat right

Winter months are filled with holiday festivities. With the holidays, there are many opportunities to overeat. Not only are there holidays, but winter foods tend to be comfort foods. This means that we are going to be consuming more calories than we do the rest of the year. However, managing your food consumption, especially during the holiday months, can make you feel better overall.

Eating Tips:

  • Portion Control – eat smaller portions multiple times a day. Skipping meals can lead to binging later in the day. Larger portions can increase fatigue.
  • Eat Fresh – fresh fruits in vegetables are lower in calories and sugar. Fruits and vegetables also help keep your body regulated. Fresh meat as opposed to frozen or microwave option is also better because of the amount of preservatives are added to frozen meals.
  • Hydrate – did you know that the body often confuses hunger with dehydration? If you drink the appropriate amount of water you will be less hungry. Click here for a link to a hydration calculator that can help you determine the appropriate amount of water you should be drinking per day.

 

Exercise

Just because it is cold and the weather isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean you should stop exercising. Exercise and nutrition are two of the best natural ways to manage your MS. Exercising should be a part of your regular routine, even if it takes a while to get back into a routine, it is well worth it.

Exercise Tips:

  • Join a Gym – gyms offer classes like, yoga, that can help you stay active with MS. Yoga is great because you can do it at your own pace and skill level. Tai Chi is also another option. Gyms also have nautilus equipment, which provide better stability than traditional free weights.
  • Home Workouts – if you are unable to get out to a gym there are things that you can do around the house. Yoga, as previously mentioned, can be done at home. There are good DVD or online resources that can show you how to get started. There are also light exercise routines that can be done around the house.
  • Movement is the Key – nothing is scarier then losing functionality or movement. Any exercise you can do, including taking a daily walk, is so important. If you do get out and walk, make sure that you have the right footwear for the season.
 
Each season has its own set of unique challenges. Minimizing falls risk, eating right and exercising are good strategies for being prepared for winter with MS and to enjoy the cooler weather.