The cooler weather of fall is here, and patients with colds, allergies and sinus problems are seeking relief with acupuncture right now. If you are not properly protected clothing-wise (still wearing shorts/sandals?), or are worn down by continual stress, then the seasonal shift in temperatures and weather patterns may catch your immune system by surprise.
The lungs are associated with fall; any deficiencies with respect to lung function will be amplified during this season. In Chinese medicine, the lungs are the first level of protection for the body, as the lungs open into the nose and are associated with the skin, our barrier to the outside world. This is the time to strengthen the lungs to address sinus problems, excess mucous or dryness of mucous membranes, recurrence of colds, bronchial issues, or skin issues.
According to Chinese medical theory, fall is the time for turning inward and consolidating energy for the winter months. What does that mean for daily life practices? Discontinue eating raw vegetables and salads and drinking cold smoothies. for starters. These are foods that are beneficial in summer time; they are refreshing and help cool the body. But in the autumn months, taking in these foods will dampen the digestive fire and create feelings of cold. It's also important to counteract the dryness of wind and indoor heating by eating foods that promote and astringe body fluids. Foods with sour flavors (olives, pickles, leeks, vinegar, cheese, yogurt, citrus, apples) and moistening qualities (spinach, barley, mushrooms, nuts, eggs, dairy products, milk, honey) are emphasized now.
Incorporating strength training into daily life can make a difference in how bone is built and maintained. People who are sedentary, either because of work or by choice, will start losing muscle mass as early as age 25. Strength exercises and routines can combat this loss and help with movement and balance. Avoiding injury is key!!!
If you are recovering from an injury involving soft tissue damage, or when muscle imbalances occur, strength training is not recommended. Best to let the injury heal fully before launching into a rigorous exercise or strength training program. When there is a muscle imbalance (usually one side of the body has muscles that are overdeveloped/hypertonic), retraining of muscles, not a general strengthening, should be considered. Strength training will only tighten muscles that are already in a shortened and tight position.
Kids/teens: activities, not workouts, will help establish a preference for physical movement and develop muscles.
Late teens/20s: Mix high impact workouts with lower-impact activities for a varied routine that won’t over strain joints, ligaments or muscles.
30s and 40s: Maintain muscular strength and bone density without pushing hard in competitive sports and risking injury (healing takes longer). Incorporate workouts for balance and mobility, such as yoga, pilates or gyrotnics.
Late 40s/50s: Strength training 2-3 times/week, interval training, and stretching.
60+: body-weight or light resistance strength workouts, low impact aerobics.
(Source: "Strength for Life," Spring 2015 Natural Choices Magazine)