Health and Fitness Tips for Autumn

Yes, it's September already. The nights are drawing in, the leaves have started to turn brown and there's a definite chill in the air. That can only mean one thing – autumn has arrived. 

Whether you love or loathe the ending of summer, you probably don't want to fall off your health and fitness wagon by spending the cold days and long nights curled up in front of the TV with a hot chocolate (not all the time, anyway). 

It's even more important to stay active and eat the right foods during the autumn and winter as you're more likely to fall ill during the colder seasons.

Here are my three top tips for staying healthy this time of year:

1. Get outside.
If you don't like exercising outside in summer because of the heat, autumn is the perfect time to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and have fun in the great outdoors. 

I love going to the park in the autumn; there are fewer people around due to the kids being back at school and people not wanting to brave the cold. The beach is also a great bet – you'll probably have it all to yourself. You could even grab your family, wrap up warm and go for a walk in the woods together, enjoying the crunch of crisp fallen leaves underfoot. If you're into gardening, get out there and do some activities such as raking leaves and picking apples (I'm no gardener so you can probably think of a few more than me). 

Whatever you decide to do, wear layers so you can lose them one by one as your body temperature starts to rise and you don't overheat.

2. Protect yourself from germs.
A lot of people think that the common cold is caused by cold weather. The reason more people get ill during the autumn and winter, however, has nothing to do with the temperature. It's actually because we're inside more and in closer contact with people who may be infected, and therefore more likely to catch bugs from each other. 

The best way to avoid a cold or flu is to try and stay away from people who are coughing and sneezing. If this isn't possible, try not to touch anything they've touched, make sure you wash your hands more often and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you do catch something, avoid spreading it to others by not getting too close to them. If you sneeze or blow your nose, catch it in a tissue, throw it away immediately and wash your hands.

It's definitely worth getting a flu jab – they don't cost much and people at higher risk, such as children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with existing medical conditions which could be worsened by contracting flu are entitled to a free vaccination. Make sure you have one every year. 

3. 'Fall' back into healthy eating. 
This summer you may have indulged a little – how are you supposed to say no to delicious ice cream, sugary drinks and all that barbecued goodness? 

The changing of the seasons is a great time to clear out the kitchen cupboards of all the processed foods you've acquired throughout the year. Be aware that come autumn we start craving starchy comfort foods, so look for healthy alternatives now.

You should always eat with the seasons – that means buying fresh food that's been grown locally rather than shipped in from abroad. It'll be better for both your health and your wallet. In season now are squash, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, parsnips, apples, figs, plums and much more. 

I love making soups and stews with seasonal autumn vegetables. My favourite is this parsnip and ginger soup recipe which I blogged about a few years ago. 

Autumn is the perfect time to begin new habits to carry you through the colder months. Most people let their health and fitness levels slide around this time of year until January when they vow to make a change. By beginning early – and by early I mean right now – you don't have to let it happen to you this year. Break the cycle!

What do you do to stay fit and healthy during autumn? Let me know in the comments!

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