Training for Summer

Ever since getting diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), my body doesn’t love the heat. No hot tubs, saunas, fireplaces, or space heaters for me. My body didn’t love the heat for years prior, but the diagnosis gave me the validation and reason why I didn’t tolerate it. This is a major conflict with my love for the summer and long days on the beach. I love the sunshine and all the fun outdoor activities.

So, the question becomes: Do I just stay indoors all summer long? That doesn’t feel good. That becomes extremely isolating to me. I want to enjoy life – and that includes summer activities.

How I prepare for the summer heat

Over the years, I have found it helpful to encourage myself to enjoy some outdoor activities year-round. This helps my body adapt and better adjust to the gradual changes in temperature.

I find it much easier to tolerate summer if I’m outdoors more often in the spring and early summer. This way it’s not a significant shock to my body if I go from spending all my days indoors to going outside in the middle of the summer.

So, is “training for summer” a thing? I certainly haven’t heard anything of the sort from my doctor. However, I have heard this from some fellow members of the MS community.

Do you find that if you gradually ease your body into the change of the seasons that you do better with the more extreme temperature days? I suppose this could also be said for those who react to cold temperatures. Do you find that gradual exposure in the fall helps you better tolerate the cold winter months? It's not to suggest that you can completely eliminate a heat or cold intolerance, but can you increase your body’s threshold for it?

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Listen to your body

I think the most important message in all of this is to listen to your body. Our body holds a tremendous amount of wisdom. If we give ourselves the opportunity to quiet down long enough to listen to its messages, we can support our body and its healing journey in a much better way.

And of course, let’s not forget our trusted devices or healthy practices and hacks to support us on those hot days.

  • Stay hydrated – This is probably the simplest way to support your body on hot summer days. I aim for half my body weight in ounces of water. I don’t get there every day but that’s my target, so I usually land somewhere close to it.
  • Cooling vest – Thankfully the options for cooling vests have really expanded over the years. I think they’re much more comfortable and effective. So, perhaps this year might be the time to invest in one.
  • Portable fans – I recently had a fellow MS community member tell me about her favorite cooling device: a fan necklace. It’s a portable, battery-operated fan she can wear around her neck to help keep her cool. This is definitely one that I’m willing to give a try.

Now it’s your turn

How do you plan on preparing for the increased temperature this summer?

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