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How important are annual check ups?

Fall often calls for routine provider visits– why? Children going back to school, sports physicals, work physicals, and annual care check ups are just a few reasons!

Are they important?

Differing opinions exist amongst physicians and patients. However, we can all agree that taking preventative action is a key part of total well-being. Prevention can include healthy nutritional behaviors, physical activity, and coaching, but it can also include a regular visit with a physician you trust. Here are some points to consider, as they may affect the frequency with which you meet:


White coat syndrome is real – particularly as it relates to hypertension. Anxiety can temporarily increase blood pressure. More importantly, depending on the patient’s experience with medical facilities, there may be an increase in general anxiety when it comes to appointment time. In addition, we may fear the results of any tests (high/low numbers in one or more health categories), a run in with needles (EEEE– blood draw!), or the perceived invasiveness of a physical assessment. From the time we are small, we internalize and carry with us every experience we have with our physicians and they can affect our relationship with them in the future.

Screening Guidelines

Depending on your age, previous health markers, family history, and behavioral risk factors, screening guidelines should be considered and adjusted. Setting a baseline for your personal numbers and scheduling the appropriate tests should be decided via an open discussion with your physician. This brings into consideration the next two items; chronological versus biological age and personal responsibility.

Chronological Age vs. Biological Age

We often talk about exercise, nutrition, and stress as the big three behaviors. Of course, there are many smaller behaviors that impact these three big ones! Hydration, work/life balance, alcohol consumption, environment, and your support circle are just a handful. These can all affect the way we age, too. The saying, you can have the heart of a 20 year old in a 50 year old body is true. We assume that “the norm” as we age is for our fitness level to decrease. This is based on a sample population! If we do a walk test for 100 participants aged 50, we can determine the “norm” for that age. BUT, do you want to be part of the norm? Hence, personal responsibility plays a part in your journey.

Personal Responsibility

We will thoroughly discuss healthy actions YOU have the power to take as the month progresses. Any positive health related behavior can slow down aging and improve your health. Personal responsibility encompasses more than just daily behaviors, though. There is a personal responsibility to monitor your health as the year(s) go by, and this may include visiting with your physician and determining a plan that works for you, asking questions about your routine and self-care, and incorporating self-exams to increase your awareness of your body changing.

So to answer our question, yes, annual appointments with your physician are important. A relationship with your primary care physician = primary value.

Early diagnosis of illness is crucial in creating a treatment plan. But a yearly physical is not enough without self-care and personal responsibility. Be sure to do a variety of self-exams, including physical (body assessments) and mental health options (behavioral, emotional, or mental health assessments). These may raise questions that you forget to ask your doctor! They may also help you evaluate your health behaviors and implement changes in your daily life. Just going to the doctor and not making lifestyle changes won’t change your preventative health! Your relationship with your primary care physician ultimately will benefit you by providing a lens through which you can clearly see what behavior changes you can implement to balance your wheel.

To wrap up our blog, here’s an alarming statistic for you– only 3.3 percent of Emergency Room visits met proper criteria for the visit. The remaining visits included complaints around back pain, headaches, sore throats, dental issues, and mental health disorders. Of course the treatment was necessary, but it could have been handled more appropriately in a preventive care visit resulting in lower cost, better specialized care, and happier patients!