Health Advocate Blog

Prime yourself for a healthy fall

The days are getting shorter, darker, and, depending on where you live, the air is getting chillier and drier—all conditions that can affect your health in a number of ways. Check out these easy tips to help you stay healthy this fall.

Get your flu shot. Getting the flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from the flu. Make sure everyone in your family gets immunized. And don’t forget to check into whether your employer offers free or reduced-rate flu shots.

Talk to your doctor taking a vitamin D supplement. Sunlight is a good source of vitamin D that helps improve bone, muscle, and immune system health. If you live in a region with waning sunlight, your doctor may suggest a vitamin D supplement. Be sure to stock up on vitamin D-rich foods–such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, and fish liver oils, cheese, egg yolks and vitamin D-fortified foods (including milk and plant milk alternatives).

Winterize your car. If your region is prone to an early frost or snowfall, make sure your tire treads are ready for the event and that you have a de-icer tool in your trunk–maybe a small shovel, too!

Start getting a dose of morning sunlight. Exposure to sunlight helps your body release serotonin, the hormone associated with boosting mood, regulating appetite and more. As the days grow shorter, you might want to consider sitting in front of a light box that simulates sunlight for a few minutes each day.

Begin wearing reflective gear as sundown nears. If you run, walk or bike as sunlight wanes (or before the sun rises), make sure drivers can see you. Consider applying reflective strips or lights to clothing, shoes or your bike, so they can see you from front and back.

Sign up for an indoor exercise class. To stave off winter inertia (and winter weight gain!), why not sign up now for a fun activity, or one you’ve been meaning to try? Think Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, spin class—or try one after the other!

Scout out community outdoor free activities. Many local parks hold fall trail hikes, for example, or charity walks and races—and often these events include sharing hot mulled cider, a delicious fall favorite.

Go apple and pumpkin picking. It’s fun and offers countless culinary opportunities from making applesauce to pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds and more. Plus, many pick-your-own places feature markets stocked with other seasonal squashes and root veggies like sweet potatoes—all tasty ingredients for making hearty soups and stews.

Remember to talk to your healthcare practitioner about getting a flu shot, and any other things you can do to keep physically and mentally fit in preparation for winter’s harshness ahead.