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Stay Awesome This Autumn

From the onset of cooler weather to busy fall schedules to the disappearance of roadside stands bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables, the end of summer poses obstacles for continuing healthy practices that can help prevent and fight cancer. But fall in the state of Delaware actually offers a “bountiful crop” of opportunities for people all ages to keep up regular and healthy nutritional habits.

Here are five ways you can enjoy the best of fall while still contributing to the “big three” in reducing cancer risk: getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating nutritious foods.

1. Take a Fall Colors Tour There’s nothing quite like the colors of fall — and no two trees, parks or wooded trails are alike when it comes to their brilliant color palettes. Make a goal to explore as many different venues as you can this fall by organizing weekly walks with a group of friends and family. Our Healthy Lifestyles Mapoffers a ton of locations to get you started.

Also, try varying the times of your walks to best accommodate the schedules of a variety of people — and to experience fall colors in different atmospheres. Consider a walk at sunrise, a stroll at sunset, or a walk in the early afternoon that wraps up with a healthy picnic lunch.

Finally, consider joining us for one or both of these free community events happening in October:

2. Rake It In Autumn also comes with a ton of yard work! Before paying someone to clean up leaves, clear property of fallen debris, and get things ready for the onset of winter, think about the great exercise you can get doing it yourself. Make fall cleanup a family affair by getting children and grandchildren involved — exercise is important at any age. Also look for opportunities around the community to exercise while enjoying special fall activities like apple and pumpkin picking, corn mazes, scarecrow-building contests, and more.

3. Alter Your Program For a healthy lifestyle, it’s recommended that you limit screen time (TV watching, computer use, and gaming) to two hours per day. But this can be especially challenging in fall, when TV programming brings back your favorite shows that were on summer hiatus. Here are a few ways you can overcome the challenges:

  • Create a weekly viewing schedule so that you can make sure in advance you don’t exceed your two hours per day.
  • Make the most of your DVR. Not only can it help you distribute your viewing time throughout the week, but it can also help you eliminate screen time by allowing you to skip through ads.
  • Consider staying active while you watch programs that don’t require your undivided attention. Get in the habit of doing housecleaning, stretching, or light aerobics while you watch.

4. Enjoy Late- and Early-Season Produce September and October can be fabulous times to enjoy the last picks of summer, such as tomatoes and corn. You can also get the first tastes of autumn favorites, including apples and a variety of squashes. Visit our Healthy Lifestyles Map to locate Delaware farmers markets that can help you reap in fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables.

5. Lap Up the Pumpkin Power! ’Tis the season of pumpkin pies, pumpkin soup and pumpkin-spice everything! Though you should take care to avoid pumpkin goodies that are heavy in fats and sugars, pumpkins as an ingredient can be a powerful cancer fighter!

Studies show that the beta-carotene in pumpkins is good for the immune system and may help your body fight cancer in several different ways. Also, the alpha-carotene in pumpkins has anticarcinogenic properties. Pumpkins are also a great source of dietary fiber. In addition, pumpkin seeds will provide you with vitamin E, which inhibits cancer-cell growth and protects immune cells.

Here are a few healthy ways to enjoy the benefits of pumpkins this season:

  • Pumpkin seeds make a great snack when lightly roasted in coconut oil. Eat them alone or mix them into a bowl of cereal or popcorn.
  • Blend fresh or canned pumpkins with reduced-fat milk and a banana for a delicious smoothie.
  • Use pumpkins instead of potatoes in your “mashed” recipe.

Sauté fresh pumpkin slices in a little olive oil with salt, pepper, and sage for a unique side dish