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So Healthy Together

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Your relationship can actually improve your health.  Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Touro family medicine specialist Dr. Meredith Maxwell discusses the benefits of coupledom when it comes to maintaining good health. Who knew love offered extra benefits?

so-healthy
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Touro family medicine specialist Dr. Meredith Maxwell discusses the benefits of coupledom when it comes to maintaining good health. Who knew love offered extra benefits?

Creating a Healthy Diet

One of the most important things a couple can do is cook together — and that includes grocery shopping. Practice reading nutrition labels and discussing ingredients with your partner, keeping in mind any health conditions that might require changes in diet (for example, choosing low-sodium food items to ameliorate high blood pressure).

When treating families, Dr. Maxwell likes to speak with the “food decider,” or the person who usually shops and cooks. This way, she can be sure to list any food restrictions or dietary limitations so that all family members are on board.

Exercising Together

Getting fit with a partner can be a rewarding aspect of any relationship. “Set a goal, and get to it together,” advises Dr. Maxwell. “If one person [isn’t motivated], the other will push them.”

If you’re just starting out, don’t push too hard. Dr. Maxwell recommends starting an exercise regimen of two days per week, and gradually building to three days. “Try to exercise as much as you can,” she says. “If you don’t make it a priority, it won’t become a priority.”

Remembering Medications

Caring partners remind each other to stay on track with taking medications. “If somebody’s forgetting to take their medications, you try to think of ways to remember,” Dr. Maxwell says. Often, it can be as simple as creating a routine with a partner — for instance, making tea together before bed and taking your meds at the same time.

Scheduling Screenings

Though couples can’t often schedule wellness screenings simultaneously, there are a few appointments that you and your partner can both make. Annual blood pressure screenings and routine lab work are great examples, Dr. Maxwell explains.

More importantly, your partner can help you remember when it’s time for check-ups — and encourage you to make and keep those appointments.

Asking Questions

It’s easy to forget what you want to ask your doctor when he or she is sitting right in front of you. A spouse or partner present in the examination room can help you remember, bringing up issues that you may overlook out of forgetfulness or nerves. “Having couples together in a room is very helpful,” Dr. Maxwell says.

Some patients may not feel comfortable saying that they don’t understand a health issue or set of directions; in this case, it can be invaluable to have a partner present who clarifies and writes things down.

In implementing these suggestions, Dr. Maxwell advises couples to value one another. “Spend time together and really enjoy each other,” she says. “Make each other’s lives better.”