Autumn wellness tips for body and mind
Don’t let the end of summer drive you indoors. Getting outside and staying active is an all-year-round activity. As Billy Connolly says, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.” Here are our best tips for body and mind maintenance during the cooler months.
1. Get your outdoor active wear sorted
In the spirit of Billy’s quote, make sure ‘the wrong clothes’ are not a reason to skip your daily walk, bike ride or outdoor workout at the park. New Zealand is blessed with fantastic outdoor clothing brands and they always seem to be having a sale. Kathmandu and MacPac both offer club memberships for extra discounts. If buying new is beyond your budget, look for bargains on Trademe. Having smart active wear, even if it’s pre-loved, helps you to get off the chair and into the outdoors.
2. Use your muscles
Even if you love your brisk walk every day, it’s not enough to slow muscle decline. Loss of muscle is known as ‘sarcopenia’, a diagnostic term derived from two Latin words - ‘sarco’ for muscle and ‘penia’ for wasting. While muscle loss can begin in your 40s, it really picks up speed after the age of 50.
Muscle wasting can have significant health consequences for older adults, because muscle mass accounts for up to 60% of body mass. Loss of function, disability and frailty are the obvious problems, but sarcopenia is also associated with increased insulin resistance, fatigue, falls and mortality.
What’s the answer? Resistance training. We’re not talking Arnold Schwarzenegger-type body building here; we mean finding a gym or exercise routine that gives each of your important muscles a job to do. Warning: it can be addictive, in the best-possible way!
3. Flex your brain
Your brain benefits from exercise too. Mental gymnastics help to stimulate new connections between nerve cells and could even encourage your brain to grow new cells. The cooler months are a good time to do things that require your grey matter to work, like reading, video games, learning a language, jigsaws, crosswords, board games, handcrafts, card games, Sudoku, drawing, painting, writing and playing musical instruments. Avoid too much TV, because it’s a passive activity.
4. Ask your doctor about vitamin D
Getting enough vitamin D all year round is important for bone health. Low levels are linked to reduced bone mineral density, high bone turnover and increased risk of hip fracture. The best way to get your vitamin D is from short (non-burning) bouts of sunshine exposure to around 20% of the body (i.e. arms and legs). But during autumn, winter and spring, you might not always want to be out there in your shorts and tee shirt! Ask your doctor whether you need a vitamin D supplement for the cooler months. 
5. Get your ‘flu shot
Vaccinations are in the news a lot right now, and you know what we’re talking about! In addition to getting your Covid-19 vaccination, when it’s offered to you, remember to get a regular ‘flu jab as well. You’ll need to be a bit more organised this year, as when you get the flu jab will require a bit of planning to ensure the right timing with the Covid vaccination. Talk to your GP and get all the information on this season’s vaccination programmes.