These 7 easy activities and tips will keep you in tip-top shape all season long.
The air is crisp, the apples are crunchy, and the leaves are a brilliant array of reds, yellows, and oranges. As you dig up your sweaters and put away your swimsuits and sandals, it’s also a good time to re-set your health habits. From transitioning your skincare routine to heading to bed a little earlier, there are little changes you can make that will have a big impact. Here are seven smart ways to stay healthy all fall!
- Give your skin some fall TLC. Fall’s cool, crisp air can be a welcome respite from summer — but it can also wreak havoc on your skin. To keep your complexion smooth and moisturized, “look for face creams containing hyaluronic acid, a super humectant that hydrates and plumps the skin,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. If the skin on your arms and legs is flaking, use body moisturizers with ingredients like urea, which will both hydrate and exfoliate the skin, says Zeichner. And while you may love taking long, hot showers, know that they can strip your skin of essential oils and dry you out, notes Zeichner. “So limit your showers to 10 minutes or less, and use lukewarm water,” he says. If you have a skin condition like psoriasis or eczema, switching up your skin routine for fall and winter can help soothe painful redness and itching caused by cold and heated air.
- Go apple picking. Sweet, crunchy, and loaded with antioxidants, apples are in-season right now and tastier than ever. They’re also nutritional powerhouses. Compared to other commonly consumed fruits, apples are high in antioxidants. They’re also loaded with fiber and phytonutrients, which help regulate blood sugar levels. Grab one as a healthy snack, or try one of these delicious apple dessert recipes.
- Get outdoors. Make the most of fall’s stellar weather by taking your exercise routine outside. Whether you run, bike, or simply go for a walk, working out al fresco can increase your vitamin D levels, boost your mood, and improve your concentration, according to Harvard Medical School. Hiking is a great way to enjoy the fall foliage and burn about 370 calories per hour (for a 154-pound person), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Not a fan of solo activities? Join an intramural fall sport, like flag football, soccer or ultimate Frisbee. That way, you can bond with your buddies while burning calories.
- Stress less with a meditation practice. If back-to-school and work busyness is leaving you stressed, try taking up a meditation practice, which can help you feel calmer and more focused. Meditation may sound intimidating, but it’s not as hard as you think. Here’s how to start a simple meditation practice: Sit in a chair, or on the floor on a mat or cushion with your eyes open or closed. Take three slow, deep breaths. On the in breath, count to four; on the out breath, count to six. Repeat as many times as you’d like. If your mind starts to wander, simply focus on your breath.
- Turn in earlier. As the days get shorter, take a cue from the sun and head to bed a little earlier so you can get the recommended seven to eight hour of sleep each night. Getting plenty of shut-eye can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your mental well-being, and boost your immune system. Plus, moving up your bedtime will help you wake up earlier so you can squeeze in a morning workout. We suggest getting active outside!
- Get a flu shot. The last place you want to be this fall is in bed with the flu. The best way to prevent it? You guessed it: Get a flu shot. According to the CDC, getting a flu vaccine each season is the single best way to prevent the flu, and everyone six months of age or older should have one. Outbreaks can happen as early as October, so get vaccinated as soon as possible. Not sure where to get a flu shot in your area? Use this Vaccine Locator to find a flu vaccination center near you.
- Get pumped for pumpkin. They're good for more than pies and jack-o-lanterns: The pulp of this fall favorite is loaded with beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), vitamin K, and potassium. And while their seeds may be tiny, they pack a big nutritional punch, boasting magnesium, zinc, iron, tryptophan, omega 3s, and vitamin E. Munching on the seeds can help lower your cholesterol and even help your brain make the feel-good chemical serotonin, according to Everyday Health columnist Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD. So the next time you’re craving something salty and crunchy, reach for roasted pumpkin seeds (instead of chips). And check out these other tasty ways to add pumpkin to your plate.
- Reviewed by Bhargavi Patham, MD
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