Autumn Health Check
by Gemma Dunn
Every year the story reads the same: we spend the spring-summer months in a state of bikini-and-beach-body-induced panic, and the autumn-winter months trying to avoid colds, flu and other dreaded germs. However, the latter doesn’t require a hermit-like existence; in fact, it doesn’t take much to check into the new season full of life and fighting fit.
Employ a new healthy attitude and preserve your health in the coming months by simply taking note of this handy autumn health check.
E is for Exercise
A huge part of maintaining your health throughout the seasonal year is to partake in a form of daily exercise. This autumn, avoid heavy, intense workouts and instead commit yourself to a routine of moderate, gentle training such as yoga, brisk walking or cycling. Rotation of the joints is imperative at a time when your body movement may be less frequent. It can even be as simple as heading outdoors for a morning stroll, an act that will clear your mind and give you the perfect excuse to admire the rich autumnal scenery. However, remember to invest in some reflective wear once the darker mornings set in.
As the weather turns, the colder spell may also leave you susceptible to sickness and infection; therefore, remaining active plays a vital part in preserving a healthy body. Moderate exercise will effectively boost your immune system via the production of neutrophils, a common white blood cell that is essential in fighting disease. The multiplications of these cells ensure an increase in natural defence, actively protecting the body against viral and bacterial infections.
Exercise really is a simple solution, and one that continues to prove invaluable in terms of health and happiness. With this in mind, focus on implementing a degree of fitness into your daily routine, and more importantly, start to see it as a positive lifestyle choice rather than a chore.
A Good Night’s Sleep
Getting a decent night’s sleep is vital if you’re looking to achieve optimal health and wellbeing. Your body needs well-earned restorative rest in order to keep the heart healthy, reduce stress and prepare yourself both mentally and physically for the next day.
For many of us, daylight saving time affects our sleeping patterns and is often one of the major causes of sleep deprivation. Failure to adjust sleeping patterns with the turn of the seasons can often result in headaches and drowsiness, as your body clock struggles to cope with the change. It is imperative that your body adapts to the time difference, so as the days become shorter, why not try going to bed an hour earlier and rising an hour earlier? What’s more, make use of the extra time you have in the morning, whether it’s taking a brisk walk or enjoying a cup of tea in peace. Not only will getting up slightly earlier eliminate the ‘rush’ that so often comes with leaving the house in the morning, but it also enables valuable ‘me’ time and sets you up for the day ahead.
Food for Thought
Just as the temperature changes with the seasons, so does taste. Diet plays a huge part in ensuring your body is plugged with the nutrition required to uphold a healthy body. Although you may not fancy that cold salad, comforting, stodgy food will grant you no favours – especially if it’s your sole intake. Whilst warm, homely meals can be full of nutrients, balance this with a variety of light meals and fresh fruit and vegetables to maintain your energy and avoid that lethargic feeling. Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids; not only will this detoxify the body, it will also work to rejuvenate the skin. Feelings of withdrawal and tiredness are all an indication that you are run down, and the common sign that your immune system needs support from a healthy diet.
With an abundance of healthy (and local) produce harvested at this time of year, there is no excuse for missing vital nutrients from your diet. As well as tasting great, vitamin-packed vegetables such as pumpkins, sweet potatoes and squash will help boost the immune system in preparation for the winter months.
You and Your Body
As the annual autumn harvest signals the change of the seasons, we often overlook the effect the cycle has on the surrounding environment, and imperatively, our health. As a direct result of the cooling climate and dry wind, the long-suffering respiratory system is usually the most vulnerable, hence the reasons as to why there is an increase in colds, coughs and allergies during this period.
Although peak flu season is not yet upon us, avoid the rush and pre-plan your next move in order to maintain optimum health. If you suffer from reoccurring colds and flu, look into an annual health assessment at your doctors. While over 65s are entitled to a free flu and pneumonia jab arranged through their GP, some vaccinations are not immediately effective, so consider making this a priority.
Stock up your cupboards with generic pharmaceuticals such as multivitamins and throat supplements to ensure you’re not caught short, should you suddenly need a helping hand. Zinc tablets are useful to fend off ear, nose and throat issues; vitamin C will aid your immune system; and vitamin D will help maintain your calcium levels, as well as nerve and muscle function.
As the human body uses vigor in an attempt to keep up with the sudden changes in temperature, you may find yourself becoming energy deficient and as a result, feel low and dejected. These tips are here to assist you in the banishment of your autumn-winter blues.
Better still, by making slight modifications to your daily routine now, you are effectively putting into place a set of practices that will from here on out, allow ease of transition from one season to the next. Good luck!