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Autumn may be good for your health

Cooler temps, structured days are beneficial to starting new habits

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Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 8:56 am

When you step outside and feel the invigorating cooler temperatures of fall, you might discover some new opportunities for health benefits. Fall brings about a different range of activities and an excuse to get into a daily routine, compared to the lazy, unstructured days of summer.

It’s also a chance for a “new start” in your daily habits, as kids return to school and you settle into a more regular routine.

Here is some expert advice about embracing this season from Philip T. Hagen, M.D., a preventive medicine physician at Mayo Clinic.

• Fall brings about new opportunities for an active lifestyle, from raking leaves, to picking apples and pumpkins. Cooler temperatures are more enticing to be active outdoors, without the risk of heat-stroke or being excessively hot during a morning run or afternoon exercise session.

• Seasonal bounty sparks new menu ideas for comfort foods. Bite into a crisp, fall apple or make a pumpkin dessert. Add sweet potatoes to your favorite stew recipe. Fall’s bounty of fruits and vegetables make a visit to a local farm market a real treat this time of year.

• Gear up for an extra hour’s sleep when Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, Nov. 4. Getting enough sleep every night reduces stress and is shown to lessen your risk for a heart attack and obesity.

• Drink up the health benefits of cold weather beverages like hot tea and coffee. Both offer antioxidant protection and coffee is said to lower the risk of some cancers. These warm beverages are also soothing and

relaxing and provide no calories — good for your waistline and stress levels.

• Take advantage of the health benefit of having more structure back in your life. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day are good for you. So is eating dinner together as a family.

• Even your skin will appreciate the health benefits of a cold-weather routine that involves daily moisturizing, exfoliating, etc. This is the time of year to bring out lip balm and more nourishing moisturizers. Don’t forget to continue applying sunscreen on your face and neck every day. You still need protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

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