Ah, autumn. Between the beautiful weather, colorful scenery and pumpkin spice everything, there are a ton of reasons to enjoy the season. In fact, if we listed them all, we’d be here until winter. Instead, let’s focus on your health. Autumn makes it easy to eat well, feel great, and get back on the wellness train that summer may have derailed. Here’s the proof.
You can sleep more
We just set our clocks back – and maybe logging a few more zzzs. And there’s a reason snoozing feels so good: It’s great for your health. Heart attack risk drops during the days following the end of daylight savings time, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. (It also increases in March when daylight savings time starts.) Researchers believe that additional sleep boosts cardiac health.
… And you may sleep better
Studies have shown that the ideal temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 68° F. Temps above or below this range can lead to restlessness. Sure, you can control this factor with air conditioning or heating, but who can argue with the slumber-inducing effects of a cool breeze coming through the window?
Oxytocin is easier to come by
Yes, you can (and should) cozy up to your partner year round, but there’s something about a chill in the air that makes snuggling even more appealing. It’s also good for your health. When you cuddle, hug, or have sex, your body releases oxytocin, the love hormone thought to reduce depression.
Seasonal superfoods are plentiful
Autumn delicacies like pumpkin and squash get their fiery hues from beta-carotene, a compound that aids in preventing certain cancers, heart disease and high blood pressure, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. One cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin also contains more than 200 percent of vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy skin, teeth and vision. And don’t underestimate the satisfaction that comes from biting into a fresh and juicy apple straight from the tree (or store). Eating one apple a day has also been linked to reducing LDL – the “bad cholesterol” that hardens your arteries, according to a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods.
It’s a great time to set goals
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been out of school; each fall still feels like a new beginning. A proven way to ensure you’ll meet your goals? Write them down, share them with a friend, and update that friend with weekly progress reports. A recent study found that people who followed these steps were 33 percent more successful in reaching their goals than those who simply set intentions.
Brain-boosting scenic walks
Spending an hour in a wooded area – as opposed to an urban environment – improves memory and attention by 20 percent, according to a study published in Psychological Science. Lunch break strolls are great for a midday pick-me-up, regardless of your surroundings, but supplement with a long weekend hike for full benefits – and scenic fall views.
Running outside is more inviting
Warm summer weather is wonderful – until you’re huffing and puffing 30 seconds into your run. Cooler temperatures let you enjoy your exercise without the excess sweat that balmy weather brings; enjoy it before snowy treadmill season strikes.