When looking for activities outside of your regular school or work routine, sports tend to be the answer for many. However, sports can often be too strenuous for people living with MS. Instead, activities requiring less energy may be a better option.
At the beginning of my sophomore year of high school, I decided to join the volleyball team at school. I figured a bit of exercise would be good for me, and it would be a way to make more friends throughout the school. Unfortunately, the activity level became too much, and I was too tired to do any homework in the evenings, and began missing school due to my fatigue. I quickly learned that volleyball wasn’t for me. The amount of energy it took was too much.
Instead, I found other ways to get involved in the school. I joined the choir, drama club, and participated in activities outside of school such as volunteering.
Choir. By joining choir, I was still able to get to know other students, participate in an extracurricular, and it didn’t make me too tired. I was able to get my homework done, and able to attend my classes more regularly. I also made sure to let my choir director know if I was getting too tired, and left rehearsal before I reached the fatigue line.
Drama Club. I learned that drama club involved more energy than choir, but not as much as volleyball. Part of this is due to the fact that rehearsal was from 3-5, while for choir it was only from 3-4 (no, I was not in choir and drama club in the same year). There was, and is (still in it) extra activity. We are working every day to learn dances, songs, and blocking the scenes. Again, I am sure to talk to my director, and let him know when I am getting too tired. If I get too tired while learning a dance routine, I can either choose to watch others, or go over my lines. There are always things to work on! Our family has a membership at our local YMCA. We have a pool available all year - there is an outdoor pool in the summer that is fantastic! There are also fitness classes that run all day long - some are more or less strenuous than others. All offer the opportunity to go at your own pace. I have enjoyed some of the yoga classes and always love some time just treading water or taking light laps in the pool. The water keeps my core temperature cool and I’m able to relax easily in the water.
Volunteering. Volunteering is a great activity for anyone! There are so many different types of volunteering for people to choose from. You can volunteer to stuff envelopes at a non-profit, package meals, help at a food shelf, help with Special Olympics, walk the neighbor’s dog, and so much more. There are so many options and varying levels of energy required for the separate opportunities.
What it really comes down to, is finding the activity that is right for you. It is important to find an activity that will not mess with your symptoms. For example, not using too much energy, which would cause fatigue. Tell the people around you if your symptoms begin to heighten, and stop what you are doing. Even if your symptoms begin to heighten and you want to continue with the activity, there are usually other side activities you can do. For example, if you are walking the dog, and get too tired or hot, perhaps you can brush the dog instead!
There are many alternatives to sports. Checking your area to learn about other activities is a great way to get involved and staying active without doing sports. For me, any movement is good movement and any time I can be involved in activities with friends, my emotional well-being is SO much better! Staying involved with others definitely helps keep me moving forward. Some days, it take a whole lot of effort, but it is all worth every ounce I can put in!