Focus on why you enjoy the activity
- Camaraderie with family and friends
- Fresh air feels great
- You feel better when you exercise
Look for resources that can improve access
- Special equipment
- Instruction through adaptive programs
- Do an Internet search for “Disabled Recreation Activities” to find programs in your area
- Enlist a family member or friend to be your Winter Sport buddy; doing activities with someone will increase consistency and commitment.
Plan for the activity
- Decide on the best time of day for you and for the activity
- Plan rest periods. (The length of rest periods varies with each person; some people may require short periods of activity and long periods of rest, while others may do fine with short rest periods, depending on level of conditioning, outside temperature and other factors.) PLAN your rest BEFORE you get tired and you will avoid exhaustion and frustration.
- Stay hydrated (drink a lot of water)
- Locate the restrooms
- Dress in layers. Cold can aggravate some MS symptoms, and exercise warms everyone up—so be prepared to adjust your clothing.
One step at a time
If you haven’t been active for a while, begin an exercise program slowly and with the help of your physician, physical therapist or exercise specialist.
- Remember it takes time to rebuild your capacity
- Talk to your healthcare team about medications and other interventions to maximize your outdoor winter experience
- Go slowly and take breaks
Prepare mentally for the activity
- Think positively—YOU CAN DO IT!
- Try not to get discouraged
- Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t
Contributing editors: Greg Farmer, RPT, Can Do Multiple Sclerosis