As the temperature cools and the leaves change color we look forward to the transition into the fall season. Many look forward to the cooler temperatures, fall festivities, and of course all those favorite fall dishes and holiday treats. Fall is also the start of cold and flu season, which many may not experience until late November or early December. Early preparation can help to ward off the cold and flu or at least armor the immune system for proper defense against these nasty little germs, which can significantly shorten one’s battle with the common cold.
Invasion of the Immune System
Most people affected by the common cold will say it came on very abruptly without much sign of warning. Although it might seem this way, there are little things we all do that slowly weaken the immune system; even a small gap in the defense system can allow for a full blown invasion. Sleep deprivation, stress, and poor nutrition are largely responsible for gaps in the walls of the immune system. Poor nutrition is often the start of the cycle; for instance consuming many meals on the go will add up to excess sugars, limited servings of fruits and vegetables, and high levels of saturated fats. While an occasional fast food meal proves no real harm, regular consumption of these foods can impact sleep cycles, alter moods, and make the body more susceptible to stress. Begin by assessing the foods you eat and ask yourself the following questions:
1. How much water do I drink during the day? Adequate Intake suggests 3 liters daily for men and 2.2 liters daily for women. Remember these numbers may be higher in terms of temperatures, altitude, and physical activity.
2. How many servings of fruits and vegetables am I eating? AI suggests: 2 cups of fruits and 2.5 cups of veggies per day. Recommendations can change based on age, gender, and physical activity level. Visit the Center for Disease Control to calculate the exact number of servings needed daily. http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/fruitsvegetables/howmany.html
3. How many meals do I eat out each week? AI suggests: no more than twice per week. Try to make healthy selections when you do eat out. Opt to share with a friend or split the portion in half for later. Choose water or tea instead of soda.
4. How many sweets have I consumed this week? It is first important to remember that all fruits have natural sugars, which the body needs. Also all carbohydrates such as pasta and bread break down into sugars. So before grabbing for that occasional cookie or candy, assess the number of calories consumed that will break down into sugar. AI suggests: no more than 9 TSP of sugar for men and 6 TSP for women.
5. How many servings of caffeine do I have in a day? If you drink more than 4 cups per day, the caffeine may cause: insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, upset stomach, elevated heart rate, and muscle tremors.
Fight Stress & Boost the Immune System
Early preparation for cold and flu season will help individuals stay healthy throughout peak germ season. Start off by eating healthy and getting plenty of rest. We all know that the fall can get very busy with all the festivities, carting kids to activities, less day light hours, and the holiday stress. Plan out the full week with a list of to-dos, prioritize these items in order of most important or due date, and most certainly set a goal to avoid waiting to the last minute. Feeling pressure to get somewhere or accomplish a task will elevate stress levels, which in turn makes the immune system more susceptible to invasion. Making a weekly menu can also be helpful or try prepping for two meals at one time. This ensures your family is eating healthy and saves time for more play during the week.
Make time for physical activity and exercise whether it is walking at the park, playing with your family, outdoor recreation, going to the gym, or taking a group fitness class. Exercise has proven to lower stress in numerous medical studies because exercise releases endorphins, which enhances energy levels, improves moods, and increases circulation throughout the body. Increasing circulation is particularly important during cold and flu season because more blood flow will help to work toxins out of the body. Exercise will also force the blood vessels in the body to expand and contract which helps to build a stronger barrier to better protect from pathogens that may enter the body.
Palisade Recreation will help you Get Fit for Fall
Another useful tactic for stress management is through relaxation, meditation, and breathing focus. There are a variety of relaxation techniques; many can be mastered through yoga. Yoga’s deep breathing and meditation practices allow participants to shift away from daily concerns and clear their mind. Yoga has several other benefits such as increasing muscle tone, improving flexibility, and helping to reduce low back pain. Try the Palisade yoga classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:00 PM at the Palisade Community Center. Class Instructors Teri and Alyssa offer a variety of styles including Hatha, Ashtanga, and Kundalini yoga.
Palisade Recreation also offers two classes that focus on improving core strength, balance, flexibility, muscle tone, and circulation. Join Sarah for Core Strength & Tone on Mondays at 5:30 PM or Wednesdays at 9:00 AM at the Community Center. Participants can also work towards cardiovascular fitness and build strength with Weights for Life, which is held on Thursdays at 10:00 AM. During this class Sarah will take the group through a low-moderate impact workout incorporating basic weight training, interval training, toning, and a cool down with a series of stretches.
Wellness is greatly improved by being outdoors and taking in fresh air. When we engage in activities outdoors, neuro-receptors in the brain are stimulated, releasing chemicals that are related to happiness. Studies done in the Mayo Clinic have shown that individuals recovering from severe injury recovered much quicker when they had a window with a view of trees verse a brick wall. Palisade provides optimal outdoor opportunities between the safe and quaint city streets, the lovely parks, and many organized outdoor recreation programs. Join Palisade recreation for a weekly hike to one of the many trails in the Grand Valley.
The group meets on Mondays at 8:00am, check the fall activity guide for a complete schedule of hikes and other outdoor excursions. http://www.townofpalisade.org/images/Recreation/Rec_Guide/Fall_2014_Guide.pdf