- - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale” –Lauren DeStefano.

It’s here, shorter days, crisp air, colorful leaves, football games, school events, and yes, too, countdown to the holidays and a new year! Autumn has been known to raise stress levels with increased activities – let’s take time to savor the beauty of the season. Keep a watchful eye on staying active, eating seasonal greats and wise balanced agenda planning as you stow away shorts and bathing suits. Enjoy the seasonal produce that makes this season so tasty. And celebrate gatherings by enjoying foods without overindulging. Here’s some tips to keep in mind as you enjoy your healthiest autumn yet.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need to Know: About Health Tips For the Autumn Season

• Not too hot, not too cold. Sweltering heat can be a major deterrent to enjoying outdoor activities. As temperatures start dialing down, the crisp air or beauty of leaves falling and on the ground make it a perfect time to take a jog, bike ride, or partake in a number of outdoor activities.

• Fend off seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This term describes a depressive mood disorder that is related to the seasons. SAD is estimated to affect approximately half a million people between September and April. A milder form of it, referred to as the “winter blues” is estimated to affect nearly 25 millions of Americans.

Exercising is one of the best ways to put the brakes on this. Getting our heart rate up and breaking a sweat is usually accompanied by the release of our body’s natural endorphins which can enhance our mood. Some tips and tricks include parking further, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or going for a walk during lunch break. A fun fall fact is that raking leaves can burn 315 calories in an hour! But make sure to avoid the weekend warrior conundrum: avoid twisting your body (use your legs to shift your weight), bend at the knees, warm-up (just like you would a workout), and do not overdo it.
• Fall premieres. There are a number of much anticipated season premieres around the corner. But watching television does not have to be a sedentary “sport.” Consider walking or running in place, lifting weights, or doing lunges, sit ups, or pushups, especially during commercials.
• Tailgating twist. Football season is in swing. But it doesn’t mean that we have to destroy our diet or our waistlines. Instead of burgers and chips, consider kabobs, veggies, fruit, or other lean meats. And remember that alcohol is not a zero calorie beverage. If you chose to drink alcohol or any type of soda, try alternating these beverages with water to keep calories and other toxins under control. We want to be healthy and that means being selective about what we put in our mouths.
• Learn something new. This is a great time to enroll in dance, martial arts, yoga or craft classes. And remember, back-to-school isn’t just for kids. For us adults there are a plethora of opportunities at our community colleges and their continuing education programs.
• Flu vaccine. The seasonal flu shot becomes available in October. This malady is responsible for agony, sick days out from school and work, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and one too many deaths. The flu shot is the best form of prevention. Experts recommend that anyone over the age of 6 months, and in particular those at high risk for complications — children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses should get vaccinated.
• Reduce chronic stress. Moving into the heart of fall with the holidays knocking – all too often translates to an overbooked schedule. Look for ways to maintain a manageable schedule, which means carving out “time” for planned activities (including some “me time,” which can mean saying “no” or declining an invitation occasionally. Taking steps to ensure schedules do not become overstressed and overwhelmed goes a long way in maintaining good health with time to enjoy all the season has too offer.

• Hand Washing. There is a myth that the cold weather causes us to catch a cold or illness. However, science has shown that the reason illness spreads like wildfire in the cold months is that we are more likely to be corralled indoors. And this means that we are more likely to share our germs. Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the flu, common cold and the stomach flu. So let’s scrub-a-dub-dub those germs down the drain.

As the season changes and we enjoy the crisp air, let’s plan each day with active physical activity; a healthy diet (steer away from junk food, don’t skip breakfast and reach for more fruit and veggies); and lots of sleep (about 8-9 hours). All of this will go a long way in supporting immune systems and overall well-being. Research shows that these healthy habits can help to defend against illness and support overall balance more than those that are lacking sleep or have unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles. Let’s enjoy the special spice of autumn with gatherings around the fire, carving pumpkins, and cuddling with someone we love. With some planning on Mother Nature’s awesome autumn stage we are on a healthy path to enjoying the beauty of fall for the coming days.

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