The days are becoming shorter and cooler, leaves are changing color and falling off the trees, and the kids are back in school: telltale signs that fall is here. As we move into this season, an extra dose of self-care can help your body transition from the long, indulgent summer days into more restful, inward-focused autumn.
Fall is an especially ideal time to nurture respiratory health. As the season changes from hot and sunny to cool and dry, the autumn breeze tends to carry dry particulate matter, which can irritate the sinuses and lungs. We tend to spend more time indoors, with kids heading back to indoor classrooms(!). You might even turn on a heater, which likely sat collecting dust while you spent the summer months in outdoor activity. These factors challenge the respiratory system, making it more susceptible to colds and flus. Simple efforts to support a smooth seasonal transition in the fall help bolster your immune system and prepare your body for the cold months of the coming winter.
What’s one of the most powerful ways for strengthening and maintaining respiratory health? Pilates! Throughout a Pilates session, we are reminded to breathe deeply and utilize the full capacity of the lungs–something we often don’t do during more sedentary daily activities. Pilates exercises connect breath to movement. One of the quintessential Pilates exercises, The Hundred, pumps the respiratory system, encourages circulation, works muscles throughout the body (including the core, of course!), and demands a fair amount of coordination. This exercise alone offers profound benefits for respiratory health, enhanced by the flow of the Pilates exercise series.
In addition to your Pilates practice, a few simple lifestyle shifts will help you stay healthy this season. Eating more warming foods, such as soups, squashes and sweet potatoes, and mild spices, such as ginger and cinnamon, help the digestive system shift away from the cornucopia of summer treats and ease the transition to cooler weather. As the days become shorter, add in some nourishing, restful practices, like meditation, and shift to an earlier bedtime. Keep your skin and mucus membranes moist and protected by drinking plenty of fluids and using a simple moisturizer, like coconut or olive oil–you can even put a tiny bit inside your nostrils to prevent them from drying out and becoming vulnerable to airborne pathogens.
As we approach cold and flu season, charge your immune system with these simple self-care tips to stay healthy all year. Check out our schedule and join one of our classes to support your health this season, and ongoing!
By Ilana Murphy, L.Ac.
In addition to teaching Pilates, Ilana is a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Functional Medicine. These holistic systems acknowledge the human body as being interconnected with nature. They emphasize attuning the body to local seasonal shifts and encourage preventive health care through lifestyle practices.