Q: Can exercising with a friend improve my workout?

Chrissy Miller, Employee Health and COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Manager, Maui Health: Yes! There are many benefits to working out with a friend or exercise partner. For one thing, it can help you stay more consistent. You’re less likely to stay home or skip a workout if you know your workout buddy is waiting for you.

Studies have also found that exercising with a partner can increase your workout time and intensity. So whether it’s because of friendly competition, or you’re just more motivated because you’re having fun, you’re more likely to push yourself a bit harder when you’re with a friend.

Perhaps most important, working out can be more enjoyable with a friend. It might also lead you to try a new activity or stretch yourself with a challenge. And it’s no secret that you’re more likely to stick with a healthy lifestyle if you’re having fun.

Finally, having an exercise partner can also boost your mental health. Your workout buddy can be someone to chat with, offer support and celebrate successes. It’s a chance to check in once or twice a week about how things are going.

So how do you find the right workout buddy? Talk with your friends, family and co-workers, or ask around at the gym. If you can’t find anyone right away, try finding a friend on social media or a workout app to share goals and regular check-ins. You can reap many of the same benefits with a virtual workout buddy as you can in person.

Q: If I’m using medication and insulin to manage my diabetes, why do I have to worry about my diet?

Noosha King, MSN, RN, FNP-C, Diabetes Program Manager, Maui Health: People with diabetes are not able to process carbohydrates or sugars as effectively as someone who does not have diabetes. To process carbohydrates, our bodies need insulin, a hormone that opens the door to our cells so that carbohydrates can move from our blood into our cells. Diabetes medications assist our bodies by making more insulin, improving the insulin we have or providing more insulin. However, if we do not control the amount of carbohydrates we eat, we continue the cycle of having more sugar than the insulin needed to process it and we will continue to have high blood sugar. Our diet is also important because it affects our blood pressure and cholesterol which can also have significant effects on diabetes. A healthy diet can improve your blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure and help you keep a healthy weight.

Your blood sugar level can be affected not only by the type of food you eat, but how much you eat and what combinations of food types you eat together. Eating a diabetes-friendly diet prevents high blood sugars which can damage organs. It can also prevent low blood sugars which can cause fainting and wooziness. Skipping meals can cause dangerous low blood sugar.

In summary, together with medications, a healthy diet can help prevent many complications from diabetes.

* Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health System hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in “Healthwise Maui,” which appears on Thursdays. Maui Health System operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealth.org/healthwise.

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