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5 Tips to Optimize Your Health This Fall

With shorter days, cooler temps and pumpkin spiced lattes everywhere, you may be guilty of forgoing the gym to snuggle at home. With kids back in school, fall get-togethers and cold and flu season knocking on the door, it is easy to compromise your health and self. 

Robbi Venditti, DO, a family medicine physician at Banner Health, shares five tips to optimize your health this autumn season and keep you and your family in tip-top shape.

1. Get your flu shot

Want to know the single best way to prevent the flu? Getting a flu shot! Outbreaks have been known to occur as early as October, so get you and your family vaccinated as soon as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccinations for everyone 6 months of age and older, with rare exceptions. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns. Can’t get in with your primary care physician? No problem! Find a Banner urgent care location near you.

Dr. Venditti says some people don’t get them because of fears based on myths or misunderstandings and the belief that the flu isn’t going to affect them. But these fears are unfounded.  “Several studies have shown a flu vaccination reduces the severity of illness in those that get the flu,” she says. “Examples include lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease and reduced hospitalizations among those with diabetes and chronic lung disease. It also helps you protect your family from contracting the flu from you.”

Depending on your age and health, you may also want to get an updated COVID-19 vaccine or other immunizations, including ones for RSV and pneumococcal infections like pneumonia.

2. Clean house

Cold weather pushes many people indoors for extended periods of time. With greater use of your heater, fuel-burning appliances and dust, consider staying on top of your floors. Use a dehumidifier, turn on exhaust fans and keep the house as tidy as possible.

3. Make healthy choices

When that pecan pie is staring you in the face at Thanksgiving, this is easier said than done. Dr. Venditti’s says first, and foremost, no food is on the naughty list, unless you have a dietary restriction. 

“Choose dishes you really love and can’t get any other time of year, but slow down and savor in smaller portions, stop before you are stuffed and limit alcohol and caffeine,” she says. “Remember this is a season for celebrating and connecting with people you care about. When you focus on family and friends, it’s easier to focus less on food.”

Dr. Venditti also suggests starting with healthy, in-season vegetables and fruits before digging into your favorite dishes. Chew more, savor the flavor and take a break between courses. This allows your stomach and mind tell you they are full. These habits can help your physical health as well as your mental health.

4. Stay active

With shorter days, you may want to spend a lazy evening at home after work rather than going to the gym. If this is the case, start your morning with a workout, so you can use your evenings to relax and unwind. Bundle up for a walk, head to the gym for a class or break up your physical activity throughout the day. Dr. Venditti suggests walking for 10 minutes several times a day. This little bit of exercise is not only good for your health, it can also boost your energy levels and help fight mild-to-moderate depression

5. Boost your immune system

Even if you live in a sunny place, you may be deprived of vitamin D in the fall and winter. A study in the Journal of Investigative Medicine found vitamin D plays a crucial role in immune regulation. And, it is also linked to sharper thinking and better emotional health. 

Fall is a time to celebrate and enjoy time with friends and family. If you are feeling more than just a little down this season, speak with a Banner Health specialist. You could be suffering from seasonal affective disorder or something else. Our behavioral health specialists can recommend self-care, psychotherapy or medications to help.  

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Content updates were made on September 22, 2023.