Taking care of your health this fall

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Do you get sick when the season changes? You’re not alone. Incidences of colds, flu and allergies go up when we shift from one season to the next. But did you know that seasonal temperature changes do not cause these illnesses? Viruses cause them. However, shifts like cooler fall and winter temperatures help different groups of viruses to flourish and hang in the air. That’s why we see more people getting sick during these times. And this fall, we also have the COVID-19 virus to guard ourselves against.

As summer draws to a close in a few weeks, you may want to prepare ahead to build a stronger immunity. Take these extra precautions so you can enjoy fall illness-free:

  1. Continue to observe health and safety protocols

    The pandemic is not over yet so we shouldn’t let our guards down. This means continuing to avoid crowds and physical distancing, wearing masks, and washing our hands often. Also, know and follow the latest public health measures here: Manitoba’s pandemic and economic roadmap for recovery.

  2. Stick with your exercise regimen

    We have the tendency to slow down when colder climate nears. This is understandable since we can’t go out as much and indulge in outdoor activities. However, we should continue being active to improve immune response, lower illness risk and reduce inflammation. Early in the fall, you can still jog or walk outside. To supplement this, you can slowly shift to indoor exercises like yoga or tai-chi. If you want more vigorous exercises, try Zumba, dancing or aerobic workouts. Now is also a good time to dust off your treadmill or stationary bike so you can have a few laps indoors when it gets too cold to go outside. If you don’t have exercise equipment, check out easy workouts on YouTube that you can do at home, like this 20-minute total body workout for beginners (women):

  3. Load up on nutrients and get a flu shot

    Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables will help keep your body strong and your mood up. Fruits like apples, pears, grapefruits, tangerines, pomegranates, and kiwi are great sources of Vitamin C. This vitamin will not only help strengthen your immunity but protect you from heart disease and certain cancers as well. Eat fruits raw, or mix in salads for a fresh and healthy dish. Farmer’s markets all over Manitoba have great vegetable selections like pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. They are inexpensive sources of fiber, iron, and various vitamins.

    Aside from eating healthy, get a flu shot especially if you have kids below six years old who are too young to get immunized. The little ones are the first to catch viruses. The vaccine is an extra shield to protect yourself and other family members. Check the Schedule for Provincial Flu Clinics/Region to know where to get your free flu shot.


  4. Quick tips on staying healthy during flu season, CBC News

  5. Get a physical check-up

    Fall is a great time to visit your family doctor. Consult them about nutrition, getting the right vitamins, keeping your immunity up and other health concerns you may have. Don’t forget to ask for blood pressure and cholesterol checks (the doctor will probably prescribe them anyway). Even young people need them.

  6. Protect your skin

    Continue using sunscreen and always moisturize. As temperatures drop, you will notice that the air gets drier. Use body lotion to keep your skin soft and correct some of the sun damage your skin may have experienced in summer. Reach for “broad spectrum” sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15. This will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays and skin cancer. Don’t forget your lips! Petroleum jelly is a good solution for dry, cracked skin.

  7. Prepare your mindset

    Prepare to slow down a bit in the fall. Days will start getting shorter and with less sunlight, some may be prone to sadness and dark moods. For most, it could be just the regular blahs that may come after the realization that summer has ended. But for others, it could be a serious case of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a type of depression that usually starts in the fall. People with SAD have low energy and are moody. It prevents them from functioning normally in their daily lives. If you feel any of these symptoms, consult your family doctor.

Fall is an awesome season! Embrace the change and start enjoying the cooler climate. Explore the great outdoors and discover your new home. Admiring the changing colours around you will surely keep your mood up!
 
Article updated August 7, 2020.
 

Sources:
Why do people get sick when the seasons change? Laura Geggel, Livescience.com; 15 best superfoods for fall, Health.com; Seasonal Affective Disorder, Canadian Mental Health Association. All accessed July 31, 2017.

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