Autumn – great time to get healthy
As summer fades and the weather has turned crisp, what actions can we take to use this cooler season to improve our health?
Did you know that making just one small change can be enough to get you on your way to a healthier you? Leading women’s health organisation Jean Hailes for Women’s Health shares some simple ways to make health a priority this AUTUMN.
Jean Hailes accredited dietitian Terrill Bruere recommends checking in with yourself at this time of year. “We’re all leading busy lives, so to ensure you keep up healthy eating and regular exercise try keeping a diary for a week of all your activities and commitments and check the balance of the different demands in your life,” she says.
Activity – the great outdoors is pretty as a picture at this time of year
Autumn is a great time of year to get active. Change your activity patterns to suit the season. Why not swap swimming for walking or cycling with a friend. Take up Yoga or Pilates. It’s easier to be comfortable outdoors without too much sun. Keep up your vitamin D intake by being outdoors around midday. Research shows that fair to olive-skinned people in Southern parts of Australia need 7-30 minutes of sun in the middle of each day in winter, while darker skinned people in southern parts of Australia need up to 3 hours around midday in winter.
Using your time wisely to create balance
Everybody needs to take time out from their busy lives to relax and rejuvenate. Whatever your personal pressures, it’s important to make time to do something for yourself to help you re-energise. Find something every day that makes you happy or gives you a sense of achievement. It could be as simple as watering a favourite plant, writing in your diary, a 10 minute walk or a half hour massage. A small study by Kagoshima University in Japan found that enjoying hobbies was associated with fewer ‘major adverse cardiovascular events’ over 1-4 years. Doing something small for yourself each day can also help your mood and stress levels.
Talking to each other, networking and emotional health
Having close relationships based on trust, warmth and mutual care for each other can really help you stay healthy mentally. Did you know the key for women keeping their New Year resolutions is to share them with others? This was the finding from a yearlong UK study at the University of Hertfordshire, which found that women benefit from the social support provided by friends and family. So find some time to chat with a friend over a cup of tea – it’s not only good for your friendship, but good for your health.
Up-keep – looking and feeling good, inside and out
Taking care of your health includes taking care of yourself inside and out. It’s not selfish to take care of your skin, nails, hair and body; it’s actually a way of saying: “I care about me and I want to make the most of what I have and can be”. The outside of your body deserves the same care as the inside.
Managing your middle years
Your middle years are a time to focus on you and take care of your health as you age. Here are some of the main areas to focus on:
Weight and shape change
The shape changes that come with changing hormones may be inevitable but the creep of weight gain is something you can prevent without constant dieting. The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health showed that the women who were around midlife at the start of the study gained weight over time, but at 2/3 the rate of the younger women. Check your weight, eating and lifestyle, re-balance your intake if necessary and make plans that keep you healthy.
Preventing diabetes and heart disease
Assess with your GP your individual risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes and take action to prevent and/or delay these health problems if you are at risk. Those aged 45-49 at risk of developing a chronic disease can access a once only health check.
Vitamin D, calcium and osteoporosis risk
Check the health of your bones and risk of developing osteoporosis with some simple tests your GP can organise and a review of your eating, physical activity and general lifestyle.
Nutrition and healthy eating
Autumn is the time to seek out local apples and pears, quinces and root veggies like sweet potato, beetroot or parsnip. Nutritionally, changing your diet to follow the seasons means that you ensure your fruit and veggie intake form the basis of a healthy diet throughout the year. These provide important nutrients like fibre, vitamins and minerals and antioxidants, while being naturally low in energy.
Ms Bruere encourages women to check what you are currently committed to is sustainable and leaves enough time and energy for you to care for your health. “If not,” she advises, “ask yourself how you can rebalance the load to reduce stress and improve your health. And remember, it doesn’t have to be major changes; simple changes can be enough to make a big difference to your health and wellbeing.”