Summer to autumn is perhaps the most noticeable change of season, with shorter days and colder temperatures setting in.
The changing season can also spell an increase in coughs, colds and bugs so it’s more important than ever to think about how best to look after our health and wellbeing. By taking some simple steps now, we can go into the winter period better prepped to stay as fit and healthy as possible. Here are some of our go-to tips:
Top up your vitamin D
Cold weather, shorter days and more time inside often leave us lacking in vitamin D, most of which we get from sunlight. Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, making it important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. It can also help boost your mood and immune system. Vitamin D is found in a many foods including oily fish (try salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel), red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods such as spreads and breakfast cereals. Government advice is that everyone should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter period, to make sure you get the levels you need to stay fit and well all-year round.1
Cook up some tasty autumnal treats
Autumn is a great time to focus on eating well, with some delicious and nutritious foods in season. Hearty soups and stews can be top of the menu; consider combining seasonal foods such as butternut squash, pumpkin, cabbage, cauliflower and potatoes with healthy, filling pulses and beans to cook up a satisfying feast.2 There are also some delicious fruit options around in autumn: apples and blackberries are great to eat fresh or in pies and crumbles, and are often available for picking, helping you save on grocery bills and food miles. Click here for some inspirational recipes to get you started.
Embrace slowing down
After what’s often been a busy summer period, autumn and winter can mean a slowing of pace. Embrace this change and consider nights spent at home or indoors with friends as an opportunity to recharge and prioritise rest and recovery. Ask around for good books to read and tv series to watch to make the most of those cosy nights in. On the flip side, the winter months can lead to loneliness and low mood, so if you feel you need company, think about getting out and about, even if it’s just a leisurely stroll around the park or investigate local activities or clubs to meet new people.
Boost your immune system
Ahead of the winter bug season, help your body get fighting fit by eating well, drinking plenty of water and washing your hands to prevent sickness. Make sure you’re eating nutrient rich foods3 with plenty of fruit and veg. Work on getting your 5-a-day into your daily diet and consider getting a flu jab, especially if you’re eligible for a free NHS vaccine.
When it’s cold and dark outside, it can be harder to motivate yourself to exercise, but it’s important to make sure you include physical activity into your day. Adults are advised to do strengthening exercises at least twice a week, and to do at least 150 minutes of moderate (or 75 minutes of vigorous) activity, spread over 4 to 5 days each week.4 If the gym doesn’t appeal to you, walking, cycling or jogging are all good free options, and some local areas offer inexpensive indoor exercise classes for colder days. There are also lots of free online fitness options, so you can workout or do a yoga or Pilates session from the comfort of your own home. Take a look at the NHS Better Health ‘Get active’ webpage for tools, tips and special offers to move more every day.
Keep a check on your health
Autumn is a great time to give yourself a ‘health once-over’ to make sure you’re as fit and flexible as possible. If you have any aches, pains or niggles, physiotherapy, osteopathy or even acupuncture can help to prevent these turning into major issues. Health care cash plans, such as Sovereign Health Care’s Good All Round, pay money back towards the cost of these treatments plus many other everyday health care expenses, helping with the affordability of check-ups and treatments.
By getting into good habits during autumn, you can hit the ground running for a healthier winter.