Goodbye Dog Days and Hello Fall Benefits

The first day of autumn brings the promise of relief from high temperatures and high humidity. As the dog days of summer exit, fall ushers in many unexpected health benefits and an opportunity to reset and refresh. Nurses General Nursing Article


Goodbye Dog Days and Hello Fall Benefits

It is the end of September and I am one of those people who notices when the leaves just barely begin to turn. When I see the first leaf floating down the creek we live by, I am immediately filled with anticipation. I live in the deep south and this week, the high temperatures remain in the 90s. The humidity is like a hot, wet blanket that is laying on you from the top of your head to tips of your toes. When I do venture outside, I feel like I am wearing a surgical mask in a sauna. I actually looked up the definition of "dog days" in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and read the definition "a period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence". I image there are readers who feel their best in the Summer and dread the cooler days of fall. Regardless of your seasonal preference, fall does bring benefits to you health. If Summer has left you feeling tired and inactive the upcoming months there may be relief ahead.

The weather invites you to get active

When I was a child, my grandmother paid me 25 cents to rake leaves. At my current age, raking leaves is actually great exercise. According to Reader's Digest, you can burn 50 calories in just 30 minutes of raking. With cooler temperatures and lower humidity, fall is a time to venture outside and get moving. Walking and hiking are great activities and an opportunity to relax. If you live near water, think about canoeing or relax while fishing. Remember, it doesn't have to seem like exercise to re-energize your body.

The harvest brings healthy foods

Seasonal fruits and vegetables provide color, taste and nutritional boosts for your body. According to the National Institute of Health, 1 cup of cooked mash pumpkin provides 200% of daily vitamin A and aids vision. In addition, pumpkin provides carotene, which converts to a form of Vitamin A. Pumpkin is also a good source of fiber and leaves you feeling fuller with fewer calories. Don't for the pumpkin seeds, they are rich in phytosterols and studies have shown phytosterols to decrease LDL cholesterol. Other healthy fall foods include:

  • Apples- contains antioxidants, fiber and has cholesterol-lowering benefits
  • Parsnips- a good source of potassium and folate
  • Pears- rich in fiber
  • Butternut squash- provides B-complex vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, biotin, folic acid, cobalamin).
  • Sweet potatoes- good sources of beta carotene, fiber and Vitamin E.

Fall back for an extra hour of sleep

November 3, 2018 is the end of daylight savings time and clocks will fall back for an extra hour sleep. The American Sleep Association recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep for the average adult. A healthy sleep pattern supports rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is linked to learning and memory. Daylight savings removes an hour of sleep for many individuals who are already sleep deprived. Research shows heart attack rates actually increase with daylight savings time and decrease when it ends.

Get back into the habit

With the start of school and other activities, fall is a great time to set up a healthy routine. You can decrease stress levels by simply prioritizing your daily activities. Your daily schedule may include sleep and wake times, as well as habits that promote good sleep hygiene. Fall is also a good time to reset healthy eating and exercise routines that support your overall health. A daily routine will also increase your personal productivity by increasing the effectiveness of your time.

Improve your mood

Autumn brings opportunities to increase your overall mood. Looking at fall colors not only boosts your mood but also relaxes your mind and body. Autumn reminds us to be grateful for the good in our life, such as, health, relationships, family, friends and many others. Through gratitude, we are reminded of what is most important in our life.

Connect with others

My husband and I host a large bonfire every October for family and friends. It is an opportunity for us to step outside of "ourselves" and reconnect with others. I imagine there are individuals reading this article that look forward to socializing around fall sports- watching a child play or tailgating with others before your favorite college football game. Consider inviting a friend to see a much anticipated and newly released movie, volunteering for a local organizing or participating in a fall community event.

As nurses, it is often difficult to slow down enough to enjoy the benefits of fall. However, it is a good time to reset, recharge and re engage in the world around us. Can you think of additional benefits of the fall months to share with readers?

Interested in the superfoods of fall? Get creative with these fall recipes:

Get creative with these fall recipes.

Visit the American Sleep Association for tips on how to promote good sleep hygiene:

Sleep Hygiene Tips - Research & Treatments | American Sleep Assoc


Nurse with 20 years of experience in diverse areas and settings. Enjoys writing articles with a student focus.

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Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

I love summer and live for it all year, but I find that the early fall gives me a burst of energy and I start "nesting"---I'm more of a fall cleaner than a spring cleaner. I like to decorate for the season and cook hearty soups and chili. I'm not good in the winter; the long, dark nights and grey skies are hard on my mood and I have to use a full-spectrum light in the mornings to avoid depression. But this time of the year is my favorite of all.

It's a great time of year for one of the easiest dinners/suppers ever: Baked potato bar! Sweet potatoes or white potatoes. I prefer foil/oven method. Even better if you have left-over chili to use as a side or topping.


Specializes in Clinical Leadership, Staff Development, Education.

I forgot about fall soups... Love them.

Specializes in Dialysis.

we just had our fall bonfire this past weekend. It was good to see friends and family who had been busy all summer. I'm ready to calm down from all of the activities of summer. I think chili is going to be on the menu this weekend