I learned something new this weekend. Cold temperatures exacerbate Parkinson’s symptoms. I suppose if I’d thought about it I would have come this conclusion on my own, but there’s nothing like direct experience! You see, we were skiing and it was cold … much colder than I would normally like for skiing … and towards the end of the day (it was actually night) I got really cold. It didn’t help when the chairlift stopped for several minutes near the top of the hill with a bitterly cold wind howling from the north. I started shaking like crazy! This I understood because the body will naturally shiver when it’s cold as a way to prevent hypothermia.
Then when I skied down the hill for the last time, two other things became very apparent. First, I could barely move my arms to plant my poles (helps with turning), and second, my left leg became virtually immobile, pretty much ruling out turning altogether. The inability to turn is definitely not a good thing, especially when hurtling down a hill at breakneck speed, but fortunately, I was on a smaller hill, so I made it down in one piece. Later, while changing my boots, I also discovered that my irritability meter had gone way up (yippieyiyokiyea! … breathe Fred!)
As Homer would say, “Stupid cold!”
Intrigued, I did some on-line research and while I found no scientific evidence regarding the affects of cold temperatures on PD symptoms, I found plenty of anecdotal evidence, to support my assertion.
All my life, I have loathed the cold and my ability to tolerate it has shrunk considerably since developing Parkinson’s and losing weight. So the lesson learned is fivefold:
- When going out in the cold, dress extra, extra warm,
- The moment you start to feel cold, go inside,
- When out in the cold, be careful about putting yourself in a situation where the ability to move is critical,
- Eat more pork fat (optional)
- Move to a warm climate! (highly recommended)
Have an awesomely warm day!