As temperatures drop and the leaves begin to change, it’s the perfect time to give yourself a “check-up” and see if you need to make a few changes of your own. With COVID-19 still around, and flu season on the way, it’s more important than ever to prioritize your wellness.
Healthier Fall Tip #1
You’ve Got to Move It, Move It
Make time to get more movement in your day. Do you spend most of your day at your desk? Use a standing desk to burn more calories and reduce the risk of weight gain and obesity. An afternoon of standing could help you burn an extra 1,000 calories a week. Get 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity weekly.
Don’t have time for the gym? Park farther away from an entrance, return your shopping cart, take the stairs, or go for a brisk walk during lunch. Fit in 2, 5, 10, or 20 minutes whenever you can. Get up and move at least once an hour. Set an alarm on your phone or computer or use a post-it as a reminder. Even better, enlist a partner for extra accountability. Movement is medicine!
Healthier Fall Tip #2
Eat Your Veggies
As the colors change on the leaves, you can change the color of what’s on your plate as well. There are a host of flavorful, nutrient packed veggies that are affordable and in-season during the Fall.
Beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and dark leafy greens (spinach and kale to name a few) are all great choices. The ways to prepare these hearty veggies are endless–whether you roast with a little olive oil, sauté them, use them in soups or smoothies; these vegetables will do your body good.
Healthier Fall Tip #3
Get Your Flu Shot!
Getting the flu vaccine by the end of October can help prevent sick days and serious health complications. Being vaccinated not only protects you from getting seriously ill and being hospitalized, it also protects the people around you.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, getting a flu shot is the most important step you can take to protect yourself from the flu. And no, getting the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu, though you may have mild symptoms while your immunity is being built up. Masks, regular handwashing, frequent hand sanitizer use, and practicing social distancing are also effective measures to keep you healthy this Fall.
Healthier Fall Tip #4
Get your ZZZs
Sleep affects our daily functioning and our physical and mental health in many ways that experts are just starting to understand. Not prioritizing time to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night can negatively impact your mood, immune system, heart and brain health, and weight. Returning to Standard Time (“fall back”) that occurs this time of year can further impact your sleep cycle leading to sleep loss.
Spend time outdoors since sunlight can decrease feelings of tiredness and affect the sleep cycle, avoid caffeine, alcohol, and big meals before bed which can lead to sleep disruption and poor sleep quality, establish a routine going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, make sure the room is cool and dark, and exercise regularly.
Lastly, turn off all electronic devices such as a TV, computer, smart phone, or tablet. Artificial light from screens at night may decrease melatonin levels which regulate our internal clocks and play a role in the sleep cycle. Using these devices also keeps your mind in an active and engaged state which stimulates the brain, making sleep more difficult to come by.
Healthier Fall Tip #5
If you have asthma, COPD, or other respiratory disorders, keep in mind cold, dry air can irritate airways and cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Make sure you speak with your primary care provider to get refills on daily maintenance medications and on inhalers you may not have needed as often during the warmer months, get your flu vaccine, and update your asthma and COPD action plans. You can’t change the weather, but you can be prepared.
Healthier Fall Tip #6
Annual Benefit Review: A Financial Check-Up
For many employers, Fall is the season for open enrollment. This is the time when you choose or change employer provided benefits and add or remove dependents. These decisions have a significant financial impact, so it is important to think carefully about your options.
Use this opportunity to review your employer offerings and how you have used your benefits in the last year to see if there is anything you may want to change or add. Learn about the tax-advantages of health savings accounts (HSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs).
This is also a great time to also review other financial considerations like tax withholding, retirement planning, and budgets. Make this financial check-up a priority and reap the rewards all year long.
Healthier Fall Tip #7
Get Your House Ready for Fall
As you flip your clothing from one season to another, give your home some extra prep time as well.
Extend the life and efficiency of your heating system by changing the filters, schedule a chimney cleaning, and prepare your fireplace.
Check windows and doors to ensure there are no drafts and clean out your gutters. Finally, change batteries in smoke detectors and remember to burn those pumpkin spice candles safely.