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Put your best feet forward

By Sun Shuangjie (Global Times)

10:37, October 18, 2012

Regular foot baths are recommended during autumn and winter.
(Photo from GT Onlice)

Autumn is here and, especially, for the northeastern and northwestern areas of China, winter is just around the corner.

Hanlu brings on cold fronts, and cold fronts mean colds, coughs and wintertime ailments. Here are some tips from the Global Times on traditional ways to help you stay healthy throughout the cooler months ahead.

On your toes

There's a popular saying in China: hanlu jiao bu lu. This means that people should not leave their feet bare because cold weather is on the way. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophy says that the feet are one of the parts of the body furthest from the heart, so the blood supply is relatively weak, and the layer of fat on the feet is relatively thinner. Both of these things contribute to the vulnerability of feet in cold weather. When feet get overexposed to cold air, immunity is weakened and people are more likely to suffer from respiratory diseases.

So everyone is advised to put away sandals at this time and wear warm shoes. Traditional medicine practitioners recommend that people prone to winter ailments should take regular foot baths. The water should cover your ankles, and the recommended temperature of the water is about 40 C. Forty-minute soaks are good for most people but older people should limit their foot baths to 20 minutes.

Keep energetic

Although people don't sweat as much as they do in summer, many experience feelings of tiredness and weakness throughout autumn.

The priority for most people is ensuring they get enough sleep. Some TCM practitioners recommend people try sleeping an extra hour through this season.

Foods which contain more alkaline than acidic elements are also a good option to help alleviate fatigue, as they can counteract the acids produced by tired muscles. Good choices include tomatoes, eggplants, persimmons, potatoes, grapes and pears.

Some simple physical exercises can help maintain your vigor. Some suggest occasionally rubbing your ears with your hands, shaking your wrists and rubbing your face with your hands or dry towels. Exercise your legs by raising them as high as you can. Exercise your eyes by staring into the far distance and then massaging the acupuncture points around your eyes.

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