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4 simple ways to feel healthier when the cold weather sets in

I am a Family Medicine physician in LA and I have always loved bringing health information to women in an easy to understand and fun way. I started blogging in 2010.

Start fall feeling healthy and ready for the new season

We’re coming up on fall, a time of year where kids go back to school, the office gets a little more serious and it is a great time to mentally and physically “reset.” Here are four tips to help you get ahead on becoming your healthiest self and focus on small changes that can make a huge difference in how you look and feel.

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1. Sunscreen

During summer months, we often stress that sunscreen should be applied every 2-3 hours or even more often if you have been in the water, swimming or sweating. But during fall, we often look out the window and see clouds and mistakenly think we are in the clear. Think again! Even gray days can be dangerous for skin and UVA and UVB rays still penetrate through the sky. Protect your skin year round by applying a moisturizer with SPF or check your makeup products, as many have built-in SPF. Using a daily sunscreen reduces changes that can lead to premature aging and skin cancers. A zinc- or titanium-dioxide-based SPF is your best bet for maximum sun coverage as these two ingredients provide a physical barrier from the harmful UVA and UVB rays of the sun. I love the Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen because it doesn't irritate your skin or cause burning.

2. Muscle recovery and massage

There is no doubt that exercise improves our lives physically and mentally. But what about recovering our achy joints and healing the inflamed tissue? Studies show that, post exercise, massage therapy helps heal muscles and increases recovery by compressing muscles to release tension and promote cellular recovery. A self-massager is the quickest and easiest way to heal your muscles and nourish your body back to health. Try the Wahl Deep Tissue Massager, which has interchangeable heads so you can adjust the pressure to your comfort. This self-massager is powerful enough to hit larger muscle groups so when your legs feel tired from a killer boot camp or high-intensity class, you can quickly recover and feel revitalized with minimal post-exercise pain.

3. Water and hydration

Most of us have grown up hearing that eight glasses of water a day is the ideal amount. Unfortunately, it turns out there is little science to this advice. What we do know is that adequate water intake nourishes our skin, recovers muscles and helps all our organs to function more effectively. So how much should we aim for? Generally, I recommend taking your body weight in pounds and divide it by two. This is how much water (in ounces) you should aim to consume daily. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim for around 75 ounces of water every day, and more if you are physically active. As an added benefit, increasing your water intake is likely to make your skin look younger and more vibrant!

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4. Sleep

Adequate sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle at all ages. Studies show us that between seven and 9 hours of sleep for adults is the optimal amount to feel restored and heal our mind and body, particularly on a cellular level. One study even showed that individuals who regularly sleep less than six hours per night are more likely to have excess body fat and be obese. But good sleep is hard to come by for many of us. The stress of life, anxiety over work and even late-night partying can keep us up at all hours. Using an app like Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock that follows your body’s natural sleep cycle and wakes you up at a time where you will feel rested is a great solution to disordered sleep. You can also use a wearable fitness band like Fitbit to track your sleep. Research indicates that when individuals regularly get enough sleep, they make better decisions, report feeling happier and have fewer cravings for sugary foods.

Have you tried an app to help you sleep or a massager to heal your muscles? Tweet me at @shilpiMD or @sheknows and share your experience.

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