This series on health-related topics is written by practitioners in Summit Medical Group. This one is by Montclair-based family medicine physician, Elizabeth Ramos-Genuino, M.D., who has practiced locally since 2002. When she is not working with her patients, Dr. Ramos-Genuino enjoys running races and exploring new places with her daughter and husband.
The period in between late summer and fall is a transition time that can be a wonderful opportunity to reboot, reflect and recommit to your health and wellness. We find ourselves shifting gears and coming back into more structured routines — whether that means planning daily activities around schoolwork or more personal down time for focused rejuvenation. Personally, the beginning of fall is when I start training to do longer races. I find running to be an effective way to decompress and improve my health. Here are five wellness tips to help you transition from summer to fall.
Make time for yourself: The secret to transitioning yourself and your body into a new season is self-care. One of the most powerful things we can do for ourselves is set aside quiet time at some point each day for meditation, prayer or just sitting quietly in a favorite spot. This is true especially if you are coming off a busy summer season of rushing from one activity to another.
Boost your health with fall fun: Cooler temperatures and fresh, crisp air is around the corner. Autumn is a great time to continue to embrace the outdoors and get active. Walk, run, hike, bike or find other ways to get your heart pumping while treating your senses to vibrant foliage and crunchy leaves underfoot. My family and I enjoy a tradition at the beginning of the fall season of walking around an orchard to pick apples. There’s an abundance of opportunity to appreciate your surroundings and boost your physical and mental health.
Eat with the season: A few too many summer cocktails, greasy BBQ fare, and lack of sleep can result in unhealthy bodies and a weakened immune system. Give your body a fresh start with the bounty that the autumn harvest brings — from squash and sweet potatoes to apples and pears. Dig into fall fruits like apples and cranberries, which offer essential vitamins and antioxidants that may slow aging and lessen inflammation, and alpha- and beta-carotene-rich squash, which promotes good eyesight.
Get adequate sleep: The shorter days of fall come with a natural decrease in energy levels. Seasonal transition isn’t easy on the body, which is why getting enough sleep is key to feeling your best. Sleep allows your body to go into repair mode. When sleep is interrupted or pushed off, this vital phase of repair doesn’t happen efficiently, weakening your immune system and making you more susceptible to viruses and colds. Be sure to get six to eight hours of sleep each night.
Ward off colds and flu: Get ready for cold and flu season by making sure you get ample Vitamin C and antioxidants to ward off viruses. The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year and to wash your hands frequently. I strongly advise that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine every year.
Fall is the perfect time to take stock of your health. Be sure to see your primary-care physician for your annual exam, vaccines and preventive screenings, such as a skin check, colonoscopy or mammogram. Happy, healthy fall!