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Importance of Annual Physical Exam

Importance of Annual Physical Exam


An annual physical exam is just as important as making sure you drink enough water and consume sufficient nutrients. It helps keep your body in check and allows you to stay on top of things. It’s recommended by many primary care physicians to get regular annual physical exams, regardless of a person’s age. Even if you feel completely okay and are not exhibiting any concerning symptoms, it’s important to visit your doctor for a physical assessment as it will allow you to be more aware of your body and stay healthy in general. Before diving into why you should get an annual physical exam, you must understand what it is?

What is an annual physical exam?

A physical exam is the general examination of your body conducted annually. It helps primary care physicians and you understand the status of your health. It can also be a preventive measure that can allow you to detect serious conditions like cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, or serious heart diseases. A physical checkup takes into account your age, family health history, and any past diseases that you might have had. It provides an outlook on your overall health. The frequency of these medical checkups varies from person to person depending on their age and health concerns.

Why is an annual physical exam important?

There are multiple reasons why a regular checkup is important. Some serious conditions tend not to not exhibit severe symptoms right away like high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure but all these health concerns, if not managed well can lead to life-threatening problems. A physical check-up will allow your doctor to assess whether all these health factors (blood pressure, glucose level, and cholesterol level) are within the normal ranges.

A full physical exam can also be an opportunity for your doctors and you to look into your immunization history and medication records. The doctor can review the medications you’re on and see if you are taking the right doses of them. Immunization history is generally for children. A primary care physician will check to see if any major vaccinations are still required. 

Without annual physical exams, a lot of health concerns can go unchecked for days or sometimes even years until they become very serious life-threatening problems. Annual physicals allow individuals to prevent that from happening because it helps them take control of their health before things go wrong.

What do doctors do at a physical?

For a physician to do a full physical workup, there are multiple that he/she will do to fully understand the condition of your health. The physicians will do the initial evaluation by measuring your weight and height. They will also ask you questions about your family health history and any diseases or allergies that you might have. 

After the initial evaluation, they will come to measure other important health factors like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, glucose levels, and hemoglobin levels. Most of the health concerns can be determined after evaluating these factors. 

How long does a physical take?

A thorough physical examination covering everything from head to toe can usually last about 30 minutes. But it depends on other factors like family health history and age. 

It measures important vital signs like temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate and evaluates your body using observation, percussion, and auscultation. Some doctors may take more time with a patient that may require some extra attention due to an illness or health concern they might already be having.

What is included in a physical examination?

An annual physical exam procedure may entail the following:

  1. An update on your health history:

The primary care physician will ask questions about your recent health concerns like allergies, any recent surgeries, some new medications recommended by another doctor, and any changes in the environment like new working conditions.

  1. Vital Signs

The physician will take your vitals like blood pressure reading and checking your heart rate and respiratory rate. He/she will also check your glucose levels and cholesterol levels. 

  1. Physical Exams

A physical exam will include the doctor looking and checking your health physically. He/she will check your throat, eyes, ears, the health of your skin and hair to see if there are any abnormalities

Who should schedule a yearly physical?

For people older than 65, it is recommended by doctors to have an annual physical exam done every year or sometimes twice a year. For people above 25, it is recommended to get an annual exam after every one to three years and for teenagers and people in their early twenties, it is recommended to get it done after every 2-3 years. As for children, it varies but normally due to immunizations children visit the doctor and get their physical exam done quite frequently. 

Importance of Annual Check-Ups For Children

As a child grows older, their physician must monitor and persistently keep an eye on their overall health. Regular annual physicals can help detect and address health concerns, as well as ensure a child’s growth and development are on track. Also, they are a good way for children and parents to build relationships with their physicians which is also important as a family needs a go-to doctor for their children to make sure their health stays in check.

Bottom Line

Annual physical exams play an essential role in having a healthy lifestyle. They help keep your and your loved ones’ health in check and prevent you from having any serious diseases. Our expert primary care physicians can help you get an overall health outlook by conducting a thorough annual physical exam. They can then consult you on what you can do to stay healthy and in good physical condition. 

– Disclaimer –
This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 06/07/2021

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  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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