Now that the clocks have gone back and those long summer days are behind us, the colder, crisp mornings and shorter days are here to greet us. Autumn is one of the most beautiful and fun filled seasons that we can be graced with in the year – an assortment of crunchy golden, russet, and red leaves adorning our local parks and the beautiful morning dew glistening in the autumn sun.
Slower paced exercise such as walking, pilates, and yoga can be a great way to get moving even when you don’t feel like you can and will melt away your stress whilst gently build your strength.
But the transition from summer to autumn can be rather challenging for some, often resulting in autumn allergies, a general lack of motivation, and a feeling of tiredness and lethargy. And let’s be honest – being active is probably the last thing on your mind. Don’t worry there is a solution!
Here are five ways to make sure that even when your body and mind are telling you to curl up in that duvet, grab a cuppa, and hibernate, that you can still stay healthy and active no matter what the weather might bring you.
5 Tips to Staying Healthy This Autumn
1. Sleep Early, Rise Early
I’m the first person to suffer from the dreaded autumn insomnia and often or not this leaves me feeling exhausted, disorientated, and miserable – it’s also the reason why I start to become so inactive too. If you think about it your body is kind of going through a temporary bout of jet lag – you’re waking up before your body is ready to, you are most likely still in a deep sleep, and you inevitably wake up groggy. To read more about your sleep cycle and how it all works, click here.
So how can we change this? Sleep early and rise early – easier said than done I know!
Gradually start going to bed just that little bit earlier than you normally would every night and wake-up at your regular time. By the time the week is over your body clock will almost be back to normal. If you feel the urge to hit the snooze button on your alarm clock make sure that you fight it as you could end up waking up in a deep sleep and feeling even more groggy than you were before, instead jump up and tear those curtains open to let the daylight work its natural magic.
If an alarm is proving to be too painful in the mornings try purchasing a daylight wake-up lamp that will gradually illuminate, waking you naturally. The Lumie Bodyclock and the Philips Wake-up Light are my personal favourites.
At least an hour before you go to bed be sure to turn the lights off and use a dim table lamp to light your room as this will suignal to your brain that it is night time and time to wind down. Also avoid blue light devices at least 2 hours before bed as they release the same hormones to your brain as daylight does, tricking your brain into thinking that it’s still time to be awake.
If you’re still feeling a little too groggy take yourself outside and get a big dose of daylight and fresh air, this will wake your brain back up, so try walking or cycling to work rather than simply jumping in the car.
For some more tips on how to improve the quality of your sleep just click here.
2. Top-up on Vitamin D
It’s safe to say that pretty much everyone in the UK is at least a tiny bit vitamin D deficient as we don’t get much sunlight in these autumn and winter months and the majority of us work in offices and buildings with minimal window space making it almost impossible for your body to absorb enough Vitamin D. You simply can’t get all of the vitamin D that your body requires from food, although every little helps so still snaffle up that oily fish. Taking a supplement is an absolute must – vitamin D helps to boost your mood, support your immune system, and it is also essential for calcium absorption within the body, thus protecting bone health and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
Buy a high quality and high dosage vitamin D3 supplement such as this one.
3. Eat Seasonal Food
This one is a little bit of a no brainer – with apples, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, pumpkins, root vegetables, and squashes in absolute abundance get down to your local farm and grab some seasonal fruits and veggies to reap their immune boosting benefits.
Apples are packed full of antioxidants and vitamin C, Brussels sprouts are packed full of iron, folate, and vitamin K, mushrooms contain an antiviral substance called lentinan that stimulates your immune system, pumpkins are high in B vitamins, fibre and potassium, root vegetables such as sweet potato are high in vitamins A and C, iron, and possess great anti-inflammatory benefits, and last but not least squashes are full of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A.1,2
So as you can see autumn brings us not only those super tasty fruit and veggies but also health boosting ones too!
Drop the mug cake and drink plenty of warm clear fluids which will help you to avoid binge eating on those tempting comfort foods and curb your sugar cravings! (I have to admit that I am the absolute worst for this!)
4. Keep On, Keepin’ On…
That’s right, keep moving even when it’s bitterly cold. Slower paced exercise such as walking, pilates, and yoga can be a great way to get moving even when you don’t feel like you can and will melt away your stress whilst gently build your strength. Make sure that you exercise in the first half of the day as the shorter days will make you feel tired earlier on, which means you’ll risk skipping a workout altogether and from then on in it could be a slippery slope.
Once you feel like you’d like a bit more of a challenge take advantage of the beautiful crisp air and go for a jog round the park or hit the trails. Just make sure that you’re wearing the correct layers; a breathable base layer with wicking (to ensure moisture evaporates), a second warmer layer, and a third layer such as a waterproof jacket or windbreaker. I’m a big fan of the Buff which can be worn as a hat, headband, or neck warmer and can also be used all year round!
If you still don’t want to venture out into the great outdoors try mixing it up at home with a skipping rope or a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout to really get that blood pumping! But most importantly find something that you enjoy – even if it means trying something new!
5. Protect Your Skin
The weather in autumn is much colder and dryer than it is in the summer which results in rough, dry, and dull looking skin. Don’t forget that the summer sun could also have been damaging your skin too. You’ll need to concentrate on moisturising and protecting your skin as well as preparing it for the winter!
Start by using a gentle cream cleanser or cleansing balm which will moisturise your skin whilst cleansing, or try out the oil cleansing method (OCM) using an organic and nourishing oil such as avocado or jojoba. This will help to protect your skin from whatever the autumn might throw its way. Remember to be gentle when washing your face and exfoliate gently using only a warm, damp muslin cloth.3
Even though the weather isn’t hot it doesn’t mean that you aren’t absorbing the sun’s damaging rays – don’t forget to wear a moisturiser with an SPF 15 such as this one.
Be sure to drink plenty of water and try replacing your beloved morning coffee with a cup of matcha or warm lemon water to flush out those nasty toxins. Don’t forget to top up on those antioxidant, omega-3, and vitamin A and C rich seasonal foods, that I mentioned above, as they’ll help to protect your skin whilst nourishing from within.
How do you survive the transition to autumn? Care to share your own tips to staying healthy this autumn by dropping a comment using the comments box below?
- Dworkin-McDaniel, N. (n.d.). Foods That Make You Feel Better. In Health. Retrieved from http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20752367,00.html
- Harding, C. (n.d.). The autumn foods that will improve your health. In Mail Online. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-143486/The-autumn-foods-improve-health.html
- Drake, K.S. (2005). Autumn Skin Care Tips: Renew & Recover. In Dr. Frank Lipman. Retrieved from http://www.drfranklipman.com/autumn-skin-care/