Let’s face it. Having a physical is not your favorite thing to do. In fact, it may have been a long time since your last physical. Yes, you may go to the doctor when you are feeling sick, but visiting the office is not high on your list of things to do when you are feeling well. However, attending your physical on a regular basis is not just important; it may just save your life.
Purpose of a Physical
You know the basics of your physical. Your doctor will take your blood pressure, measure your height and weight, and have a chat with you about your general lifestyle. Your doctor may draw blood and order additional tests. When laid out like that, the whole process seems simple enough to skip. But the physical is so much more than that. During this time, your doctor will assess your overall health. If you regularly see your doctor for annual exams he or she may notice physical or chart differences from previous visits.
Benefits of a Physical
In addition to noticing differences, physicals provide even more beneficial information for your doctor. The short time you spend together may be the most important time you spend all year. During a physical exam your doctor may notice minor symptoms that, if left untreated, could become serious disorders. Your blood pressure or sugar levels may be a little high, which could indicate future problems if ignored. Additionally, this routine exam can detect early problems when a diagnosis is easily made and treatment options are still available.
Optimize Your Physical
Your physical exam is just that, yours. This is not just your doctor’s time to check in with you, it is your time to check in with your doctor. Perhaps you have noticed several small problems since your last visit but have not wanted to schedule an appointment. This is the opportune time to discuss your concerns with the doctor. This is also a great time to ask your physician about any preventative screenings you should have as well as any changes you may want to make in your life. If you are considering a new diet or fitness regimen, discuss it with your doctor. Also, be sure and ask your doctor about what types of vitamins are best for you now. As you age and change so does your body and the vitamins you were taking when you were twenty may not give you the most benefit for the stage of your life now.
Frequency of Physicals
Depending on your age, gender, and health condition, suggestions on how frequently you should schedule a physical exam vary. General recommendations for women are once a year for pap smears and breast exams. Men are recommended to schedule exams twice in their twenties, three times in their thirties, four times in the forties and once a year after that. Of course, going more often can only help.
Taking advantage of this time with your doctor may help you prevent illness or receive treatment as early as possible should something untoward be diagnosed. If nothing else, this exam will provide an excellent baseline that can be used for comparison if a medical situation arises in the future.