Research has shown that most people fail to attend regular physicals, even though such yearly visits to the doctor can be vital to help identify health problems. The Archives of Internal Medicine published findings that show only one in five people receive an annual physical each year.

Why Do People Skip Physicals?

There are many reasons people may believe that they don't need a yearly checkup. Some people choose to skip physicals because they believe that they "never get sick." Others are embarrassed to discuss health concerns with a doctor. Many people also have confusion about the difference between preventive exams like physicals, and ongoing specialized care for certain medical conditions. Even if you regularly consult a specialist--such as a cardiologist or dermatologist--a visit to a general practitioner once a year is suggested.

Importance of Physicals

Physicals are a vital health tool that can help you to create an overall roadmap of your health. In fact, Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital (CFH) reports that annual medical check-ups can be lifesaving. Physicals generally involve checking your vitals. This means that a doctor, nurse, or other health provider, will check your height, weight, blood pressure, and blood draws. Your doctor may also suggest certain preventive screenings.

Screenings can catch potential problems early. They can also help your doctor identify health issues before they develop into something more serious. Consult your doctor about the type of screenings you should receive, based on your age, gender, and medical history.

Some typical screenings for women may include:

  • Pelvic exam
  • Pap test (every three years)
  • Breast exam
  • Mammogram (after age 40 talk with your doctor about when to start)

Some common screenings for men include:

  • Blood pressure (at least every two years)
  • Cholesterol (every five years)
  • Skin exam (every three years until age 39; every year after age 40)

The University of Michigan Health System reports that yearly physicals also provide an opportunity for discussion between patients and physicians. These appointments are the perfect time to raise important concerns with your primary care physician. Your physician can help coordinate your care and help you stay healthy.

Don't Forget the Kids

If you have children, remember that they should attend annual physicals too. The start of each new school year is a good time to schedule your child's visit with the family physician or pediatrician to evaluate their physical health and development.

The American Family Physician suggests that your child's routine checkup is a good time for parents and children to talk about healthy habits and accident prevention.

Mark Your Calendar

It's vital to have a yearly physical, even if you believe you don't need one. Not only is an annual checkup a chance for you to learn about preventative screenings, it is also an opportunity for you to discuss your health concerns with your doctor. When it comes to your health, you can't afford to be nonchalant. Protect yourself, and your family, and schedule time for annual physicals.