Wash your hands. It seems like such a simple directive, yet it’s at the top of the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for staying healthy this fall. Keeping those hands clean is important at any time, but especially during a pandemic.

Another piece of guidance from the agency is to get a flu shot. Flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce the severity of illness, lower the risk of ICU admission and decrease the risk of death from the flu. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and worsening of chronic medical conditions.

We’ve compiled a list of some other simple suggestions for maintaining good health as the leaves change and the temperatures cool. Remember, though, these are only recommendations; consult with your physician about any major changes to your diet or exercise routine.

1.  Don’t forget about fruits and vegetables

Eating well-balanced meals can actually help you stay warmer. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans list core elements that make up a healthy dietary pattern, including vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, oils, and protein foods.

Try fall vegetables, such as beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, and squash, or snack options like whole fruit, hard-boiled eggs, and veggies with hummus. Even pumpkins are a good choice because they’re high in beta-carotene. Drink plenty of water, and avoid large meals, alcohol, and caffeine before bedtime.

Some strategies for eating more healthfully on Thanksgiving include:

  • Prioritizing protein (like turkey, with light or no gravy)
  • Removing the turkey skin
  • Opting for white meat versus dark meat
  • Reducing the butter on your bread
  • Going slow or low on salad dressing
  • Planning for pie and taking only one small piece

2.  Add exercise to your daily routine

The cool autumn air provides a good environment for outdoor activities, from hiking and raking leaves to visiting your local pumpkin farm or planting bulbs in your garden for the next spring. Even a brisk walk can be part of the 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise recommended by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

But don’t forget to dress appropriately for the cooler temperatures, especially closer to the winter months. Wear layers, and consider wind-shielding clothing. For frigid temperatures, the CDC recommends that adults and children wear a hat, a scarf, or knit mask to cover the face and mouth, sleeves that are snug at the wrist, mittens (they are warmer than gloves), a water-resistant coat and boots and several layers of loose-fitting clothing.

3.  Don’t skip sleep

The amount of sleep recommended by the National Sleep Foundation varies by age, with 7-9 hours per night suggested for adults 26-64 and 7-8 nightly for those adults 65 and older. Although it’s easy to want to sleep in on the weekend, try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Some guidelines suggest turning your screen off at least one hour before going to bed because the blue light from screens often decreases a person’s ability to sleep restfully.

4.  Keep an eye on your vision

As noted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), dry and/or cold air often causes dry eyes, and outdoor fires, heated rooms, and autumn breezes can lead to burning, stinging, or watery eyes. The organization suggests using artificial tears to keep your eyes moist and trying to avoid overly-warm rooms, wind, hair dryers, and other things that dry out your eyes even more.

5.  Stay on schedule for preventive screenings

A busy fall schedule shouldn’t prohibit you from speaking with your doctor about any preventive screenings, including mammograms and colonoscopies. Depending on your age, sex and medical history, you may need to be screened for:

  • Certain types of cancer
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis or weak bones
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Mental health conditions

Use the MyHealthfinder tool to get personalized recommendations for preventive services, and find out which services are covered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

6.  Test your smoke and/or carbon monoxide alarms

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends checking and changing the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms twice a year when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. This year, Daylight Saving Time ends on November 7. If you use a fireplace, wood stove or kerosene heater during cooler fall months, install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector near the area to be heated. Using space heaters and fireplaces can increase the risk of household fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

MLS Group believes in helping everyone live healthy, fulfilling lives. Subscribe to our blog for news on trends affecting the healthcare industry.

6 Tips to Stay Healthy and Safe this Fall