Healthy ideas to feel your best this autumn
1. GET OUTSIDE
The fall season brings with it plenty of cool, crisp air and vibrant fall foliage – making it the perfect time for outdoor activities. The comfortable temperatures make it ideal for a hike in the woods or a stroll through the park. However, you don’t have to do any extreme activity to reap the rewards of spending time outdoors. One benefi t from soaking up the fall sunshine is vitamin D. This important vitamin is produced by the body when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. Not only does vitamin D promote calcium absorption and aid in bone health, it also assists in modulating cell growth, neuromuscular and immune functions and the reduction of inflammation.
2. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
Not only is a walk through the pumpkin patch great exercise, it can also provide some healthy eats. And according to the USDA, buying seasonal local produce can reduce your carbon footprint and boost the local economy. The quintessential fall fruit – the apple – is packed with both vitamins and antioxidants.
Pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes all offer wealth of alpha-and beta-carotene, which can be converted into retinol to promote healthy vision and cell growth. For an added treat, toast up some pumpkin seeds. These crunchy snacks are a good source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may help those with heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
3. TURN ON YOUR TV AND YOUR FITNESS PLAN
Fall not only brings delicious food, it also means the return of favorite TV shows and football games. With the average half-hour sitcom containing between 8-10 minutes of commercials, there’s plenty of time to bust out a few crunches, hold a plank or see how many push-ups you can get done before returning to your regularly scheduled program. While it may not seem like much, even the smallest amount of daily exercise offers benefits beyond weight loss and muscle building. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular activity can help to:
• Improve the immune system.
• Reduce the risk for health issues such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
• Boost a person’s mood and self-esteem.
• Reduce stress and depression.
4. RELAX AND RENEW YOUR MIND AND BODY
It’s important to make time for yourself. What better way to relax than with a massage? Not only is a massage a great way to unwind, it can also help to stimulate circulation and relieve pain. One popular type of massage is reflexology, a method targeting specific points on the hands and feet. “Reflexology releases endorphins throughout the entire body,” says Bonnie Horwith of Hand and Stone Spa, located at the Promenade Shops in Center Valley. “This reduces stress and returns the body to balance.”
For those who have been neglecting the summer sunscreen, fall is the perfect time to pamper your burned out skin. “Nothing can completely undo sun damage, although the skin can sometimes repair itself,” says Horwith. “It’s never too late to begin protecting yourself from the sun. Our facials are designed to address the specific skin types of women, men or teens. We begin with a deep pore cleansing, exfoliation and extractions creating a relaxing feeling and promoting healthy skin.”
5. GET MOTIVATED
When it comes to exercising, getting started can often be the hardest part of a workout. Group classes are a great way to “trick” your mind into fitting regular exercise into your weekly routine. “Boot camp”-style strength and conditioning programs, like CrossFit, are one way to kick your workout into high gear. “Taking a class or working out with a group builds a team mentality,” says Markus Riggleman, owner and head coach and trainer at CrossFit Lehigh Valley on Marcon Boulevard in Allentown. “People push and challenge themselves more when they feel like they are part of a team.”
Group fitness programs, like those offered at Lehigh Valley CrossFit, are also a great way for a person to push themselves to get better at something they’re weak or unfamiliar with. “I often use pull-ups as an example,” says Riggleman. “Someone who isn’t good at pull-ups, is never going to do pull-ups on their own at the gym. But when you come to a class, you might have to do that one thing you aren’t good at or don’t like – and that is going to give you a workout you probably couldn’t get on your own.”