I’m finding it more and more difficult to get myself outdoors to walk. No matter how firmly I remind myself of the importance of exercise in keeping my fibro symptoms at bay, I just can’t seem to get motivated. It’s got nothing to do with the upcoming holidays, as one might expect. Rather, it’s all about the weather.
Having been born and raised in frigid central New York, I moved to Southern California in 2000 with one main objective: to get warm. The year before I made the move, I’d experienced consistent 80-degree temperatures during my December visit.
I would later learn that those temperatures were due to a prolonged episode of Santa Ana winds, a phenomenon that blows very dry and usually hot air from the desert toward the coast. Unfortunately, Santa Ana winds don’t always blow. In fact, this year, we expect to experience this phenomenon for only 10 days a month from November through January. Not only that, but Santa Ana winds aren’t always warm. They have been responsible for record cold spells as well.
I mention this weather peculiarity because of its effect on fibromyalgia patients. I, for one, often feel my best when the Santa Ana winds are blowing. Perhaps it’s psychological because I just really like warm, sunny weather. I suspect my improved health is a result of improved mood at those times: I feel happy about not being cold, and happiness leads to better health.
On the other hand, a friend of mine who also has FM typically experiences migraines whenever “the winds” blow. Some fellow sufferers at my FM support group report great increases in pain and other symptoms at this time. Others report feeling better. Response to weather conditions is just one more area in which every fibro patient is unique. Most of us claim to be affected, but each is affected differently.
Now, back to my walking. The thing I like best about living in a warm climate is the ability to walk out the door on any day of the year wearing exactly the same clothing I wear in the house; no need for coats, hats, boots, scarves, gloves, etc., etc. I left those items in Syracuse, New York, when I moved here. Having a comfortable outdoor temperature makes it so much easier to follow through whenever I feel the motivation to walk. An anxious little dog is an extra motivation, for sure. The way I see it is that the energy expended in the process of bundling up can then be used to walk a little farther. Whether this is a truism or not doesn’t matter. The important thing is that I believe it. For me, if it’s easy to do, I’m more likely to do it.
But this year feels different. It’s definitely not as warm. In fact, I do need to put on a jacket to go outside. If the wind is blowing madly (as it currently is), I may even need a hat (I’m a person prone to earaches). This is not what I had imagined life to be when I made my monumental coast-to-coast relocation.
I feel cheated. I kept my part of the bargain. I went through the exhausting process of sorting and cleaning out 27 years worth of belongings from my four-bedroom home. I whittled it down to what would comfortably fit in a one-bedroom apartment to make my move affordable. That exertion nearly did me in. I spent the first month at my new residence in bed recuperating. I want the warm weather for which I moved here! Maybe then I’ll be motivated to walk.
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