Healthy habits to adopt this Autumn

Is there anything new you want to try before the year is out?

However long it is since you last packed your school bag, September always has a ‘back-to-school’ feel to it. After the lazy days of summer, there’s a get-up-and-go in the air. In fact, it’s a much better time to start something new than cold, dark January when we’re motivated more by post-festive guilt than genuine enthusiasm.

What could you try for your September resolution?

So why not try something new, whether it involves signing up for a course or making some lifestyle tweaks – and do your health a favour at the same time?

Join a choir

Singing, especially singing in a group, is good for us in all kinds of ways. It’s great for our mental health. It helps us make connections with other people, which is very important for us both mentally and physically – in quite an easy way, because everyone’s joining in. There’s even evidence that it’s good for our lungs to belt out a few numbers.  And these days there are choirs of all kinds, from rock to gospel to chamber. Join now, and you’ll be in fine fettle for the Christmas concert…

Try t’ai

It looks like one of the slowest forms of exercise, but t’ai chi is actually quite a demanding physical discipline. Being meditative and focused, it’s very good for us mentally – but one of its top health benefits is that people who do it are far less likely to fall. Since falls injure many older people, it makes sense to protect your bones by signing up for a class.

Learn a language

Language learning in the UK is in steep decline, but it’s a great way to keep your brain active. It’s not surprising that learning a language may be one way to protect against dementia. There’s some evidence that it may help you be more creative too. You can even learn a language using apps from your phone. Forget your memories of school French, ditch the Sudoku and sign up for a language course now – and next time you holiday abroad you might be able to chat with the people who live there.

Sign up for a vegetable box

This is the season of fruitfulness. Whether it’s apples and pears that make your mouth water or pumpkin and leeks, they’re all available in a handy subscription box. Some boxes use ‘wonky’ fruit and veg, which helps to cut down on food waste and tastes just as delicious. Others highlight the produce of local British farmers, helping us to eat with the seasons. It may take a little investigation to find out how to make the most of them, but you’ll be getting a huge range of fresh nutrients – and some delicious meals too. Having your fruit and veg picked out for you could lead to some fun kitchen experimentation. If you’re looking for some healthy recipes to start with, Be Healthy has delicious meal suggestions for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Put your best foot forward

Autumn is a glorious season to get out into the countryside. Alternatively, if you live in a big city, there are almost certainly places you’ve not explored. Walking is a terrific form of exercise; it’s lighter on your joints than running but has the same bone-strengthening benefits. What’s more, if you do get out into nature, increasing numbers of studies are demonstrating how good for us it is to spend time in ‘green space'. Find a route and give it a go.

Be firm about bedtime

It’s around now that the nights really do start drawing in. Make the most of this by resolving to ring-fence the amount of sleep you get. More and more evidence is coming to light about just how damaging it is not to get enough shut-eye. Set yourself a bedtime and stick to it (within reason!) to feel a real difference next day. Struggle to nod off? Check out our guide on good sleep.