With the crisp breeze, shorter days and cooler evenings, we know that autumn is in the air and it won’t be long before it’s time to start thinking about winter coats and woolly hats. It’s one of the most beautiful seasons with its unique ability to display wonderful colours, but it’s often a time that people get ill with colds and flu; so why not give your body a head start with an ‘Autumn Health Check’ and try these simple steps to help you stay well?

What is flu?

According to the NHS, Influenza (flu) is a “common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes”. It infects the nose, throat and lungs and can lead to serious flu-related complications, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, posing a threat to people deemed ‘high risk’ such as the elderly, pregnant women, infants, and those with weakened immune systems or existing respiratory illnesses. By taking simple steps to stay well this autumn, you could help prevent flu-related illness, reducing time off sick from school and work.

5 steps to help you stay well during autumn

1. Regular exercise to boost the mind and body
Don’t let the cooler temperatures put you off from going outdoors. Regardless of the time of year, the Mental Health Foundation suggests that regular exercise plays an important role in maintaining your health and wellbeing, making you feel more energetic. The NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, and with autumn colours at their most impressive, now is a good time to go for a brisk daily walk outside.

2. Or, take the exercise inside!
If the cold weather puts you off exercising outdoors, it might be the time to try something that you can do indoors! You could exercise to a fitness video, go for a swim, or go to the gym. You can even try something new such as a dance class, playing squash, a yoga class, or even bowls or archery! Taking part in these activities is a great way to meet new people and socialise, too.

3. Boost your immune system
One way to boost your immunity is by doing regular, moderate exercise, (source: Harvard Medical School), as this produces neutrophils, a common white blood cell that is essential in fighting infection. Another way to boost your immunity is to give your diet a makeover. Instead of reaching for the usual cold-weather stodgy comfort foods – now is the time to really boost your vitamin and antioxidant intake through your food. One of the best ways to do this is eating fresh food, such as natural immune-boosting foods like garlic, or foods high in vitamins B, C and D and Zinc. It’s also important to stay hydrated, especially if you’re doing daily exercise, so make sure you’re having at least eight glasses of fresh water per day. Why not read our blog on the importance of keeping hydrated?

4. Hygiene first
Cold and flu viruses are contagious, and can be easily spread through contact with an infected person or by touching objects that have been in contact with the germs, which commonly include computer keyboards and door handles. This is why it’s essential that you regularly wash your hands at home and at work, especially after sneezing, to get rid of germs and help prevent infection.

5. Embrace seasonal food
A fun way to enjoy autumn and improve your health at the same time is to embrace the variety of delicious, healthy seasonal foods that autumn provides. Typical autumn foods include pumpkins, root vegetables like parsnips, squash, sweet potatoes and turnip; and tasty fruits such as apples, pears, figs, elderberries and cranberries. These foods make delicious heart-warming soups, are great for roasting and the fruits can be turned into tasty chutneys, jams or even crisps – baked apple crisps are a delicious healthy alternative to fried potato crisps!

We hope that these ideas can inspire you to make some positive steps to improving your health and wellbeing this autumn. To find out more about how a cash plan from Sovereign Health Care can also help keep you healthy, click here.

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