Temperatures are cooling, students have started returning to the classroom, and pumpkin flavored beverages are back in coffeeshops. It looks like fall’s definitely in the air, albeit a bit early this year!
The changing seasons always bring challenges and adjustments to our healthy living routines; for example, autumn weather often finds us spending more time sitting indoors, which combined with football season, the holidays and other indoor celebrations leaves us feeling lethargic and can also cause weight gain. Fall also marks an approaching flu season and sees an increase in the number of people catching colds and other illnesses.
Don’t worry though – four simple things can make a world of difference and help keep you fit and healthy during the next few months:
1. Track and plan your meals and snacks.
Thanks to football season, holidays and more, it often seems like September onwards revolves around food. it doesn’t help that our favorite seasonal delectable dishes often include too much of what we don’t need and too little of what we do need.
Fortunately, a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean banning tailgating, house parties or other fall social activities. A simple way to monitor your weight during this food-crazy time of year is to use paper or digital trackers to keep an eye on what you’re eating each day. Don’t just use these tools to track calories, either! The nutrients, sugars, fat content and so forth in what you’re eating can all play a big role in your health even if you’re sticking to a low-calorie diet.
You can also use these tools to plan a day’s meals in advance or decide what you will and will not eat before going out, which can help reduce the chances of your overeating. Don’t feel like you have to just eat the typical unhealthy options available at your outings, either; a quick Google search can always help you find healthier alternatives that are far kinder to your waistline but taste as good as your favorites.
2. Stick to healthy sleep schedules.
It’s no secret that losing sleep leaves us feeling lethargic. In addition to that, skipping out on sleep often exacerbates any current health problems you may have. Research has also connected a lack of sleep with weight gain, a higher risk of developing stroke or heart issues, and a range of other health issues.
Fortunately a few adjustments will allow you and your family to get the sleep you need to stay healthy. WebMD recommends doing the following to help make this happen:
Remove TVs, computers, and gadgets from kids' bedrooms
Avoid large meals before bedtime.
Develop a regular bedtime routine.
Set firm bedtimes and wake times.
Make sure the bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing -- and not too hot or cold.
Help kids quiet down a few hours before bedtime.
Heavy studying, text messaging, or video games should end in early evening.
You may also want to check with your doctor if you’re worried that a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, is keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep.
3. Stay active.
Cooler temperatures, more food and shorter daylight hours are all part of the fall season – and all contribute to your energy levels and willingness to get out and get moving. However, no matter how tired you feel, it’s important to stay active through the fall season; doing so will keep your entire body – heart, brain and more! – healthy and rejuvenated. Don’t think that you need to go to the gym for a grueling workout, either; 30 minutes on an exercise bike at home, a short walk, a bicycle ride, dancing – anything that gets you moving will help you stay fit and healthy.
4. Head to your doctor for an exam – and for your vaccinations and flu shots.
It’s always best to visit your primary care doctor at least once a year, even if you feel fit and healthy. Talking to your doctor may reveal gaps in your personal health routine that need to be filled to prevent problems down the line. Your doctor can also tell you if you’re overdue for certain vaccinations and can give you a flu shot to prevent pneumonia and a possible hospital visit later this season. Be aware that if you live with or care for a child under 2 years old, you are in a priority group for flu shots. According to WebMD, the flu shot vaccine is recommended for:
Children aged 6 months to 19 years.
People age 50 and older.
People of any age with chronic medical conditions such as asthma.
People living in nursing homes or other long-term facilities.
While many people associate the coming season with weight gain, illnesses and other health issues, following simple steps like these will go a long way in helping you stay healthy and happy during the coming months. If you do begin to feel ill this season, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor to make sure nothing is wrong, and to see what you need to do to keep the bug that you catch from spreading to others!