No problem Jennifer. I also faced those same questions down and now don't even try, save for ice cold beverages in the sun, to do anything while exercising to stay cool.
I mean I wear the min. amount of clothing for the conditions so I optimize my own cooling ability, but I don't wear a cooling vest or set up a fan next to my bike or anything like that.
What you said about the pos. from exercising outweighing the neg. from the heat generated is probably more right on than my black and white equation. However, heat doesn't bother me over the long haul anymore because when given enough 'cooling off time' after exercise or sunbathing, I always go back to where I was before I started the activity. If I did not, I'd be more inclined to think it's causing damage.
Bob is right, however, that nothing is absolutely proven. This is just how I deal with it. When you first get into your MS, you want to make sure you at least do something to control the uncontrollable, but over time I've given up because those things are, well, uncontrollable. Just don't do stupid things like jog in plastic sweats to try and lose weight or something like that
. It's a tricky question because flaring your symptoms doesn't 'feel healthy'. But I think we have to try and live like we don't have MS whenever and wherever possible in terms of living your life.
I'm not talking like throw caution to the wind and eat like crap like we (I) used to. Just in terms of flaring myself up.
Sorry I'm being windy but allow me to expound. For the last three days, I've been doing a physical job at work. We put out some bad product that had to be sorted at a customer's. Well I'm the only trained ultrasound weld cerified guy, so I had to lead it. Well the part goes in part of the clutch of a semi sized truck. We had to pick these up off of skids that were about 10" apart. Needless to say after about 10 minutes of doing this, I was all screwed up. Dizzy, legs hurting, couldn't see right. Well a year or so ago I would simply have said I couldn't do it because it makes me feel so bad. After time you will realize that doing things like that only "take you down" so far. At first you don't know when the downward feeling is going to stop. But it does and sort of levels off at a certain level of dysfunction.
Well it was a really good thing I went ahead and did it because today I'm feeling the benefits. So exertion and heat don't scare me anymore since I know it's not going to take me all the way down to where I can't move. And like I said before, I'll keep doing it until I don't recover back the state I was in before I started. Sorry this is such a diatribe. I don't even know if I conveyed the thought properly, but I hope I got one thing across:
Even though exertion, and the heat that comes with it, make you feel like ass, there is a limit to how bad you are going to feel (at least in my case). So I'd find your threshold where you aren't tipping yourself into temporary blathering and stumbling so bad that you hurt yourself, and use that as your own barometer. So until I can't recover from what I did, I plan on keeping up with living and exerting myself.