As the cold weather approaches, flu season comes with it. But there are a few simple strategies you can take to avoid getting sick. Massachusetts General Hospital Registered Dietitian, Alison Graziano, RDN, LDN, offers five tips for staying healthy this fall.
- Start taking your vitamin D3 supplement. Vitamin D is critical for bone and muscle health, but vitamin D also boosts your immune system. You get most of your vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. However, as you approach colder weather seasons, especially in New England, your intake decreases. A vitamin D3 supplement is a safe and effective way to maintain optimal vitamin D levels. Generally, 1,000 to 2,000 IU daily is a safe dosage for the general population, however, ask your physician or registered dietitian for what dosage of vitamin D3 is appropriate for you.
- Get your flu shot. Flu season starts in early October and can last until May. A flu shot can not only reduce your number of sick days, but the shot can also prevent serious health complications from the seasonal flu. Most people are eligible for the flu shot. There is a separate suitable shot for adults 65 and older which provides better protection. Schedule your flu shot today through your Patient Gateway portal or primary care provider’s office.
- Continue to stay active. It can be easy to cozy up inside as the temperatures drop, but it’s important to get in movement throughout the day. Fall is a great time to spend time outdoors! Take in the changing scenery on a run, hike, or bike ride. Bundle up with layers to protect your body from the cool temps or begin to transition your workouts indoors. Consider trying a new indoor exercise class to keep you motivated. The key is to find something you enjoy! Don’t forget, raking leaves, and shoveling snow counts!
- Schedule your annual physical. A preventive health exam with your primary care provider is the best way to stay on top of your health and ensure you’re taking care of your body. Fall is a great time to ensure the whole family is up to date on their wellness visits. These visits allow you to monitor your health, track existing conditions, update vaccinations, perform any necessary exams, and coordinate referrals to medical specialists.
- Get on a consistent sleep schedule. The sun is setting earlier providing the opportunity to get to bed earlier as daylight saving time approaches. Keeping a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends, maintains your body’s internal clock, allowing for more restful sleep. Aim for seven to nine hours of restful sleep per night. Getting consistent sleep restores your immune system, improves your energy levels and mental function, decreases risk of cardiovascular events, and helps maintain a healthy weight and metabolism.