Why Physical Exams Should Be A Priority As You Age

Posted by Meghan Orner on August 26, 2015

Why Physical Exams Should Be A Priority As You Age

For most of us, we’ve followed a strict timeline as to when we see our doctors for a physical exam that more or less resembles this schedule: we got a physical exam at birth, before starting school and maybe even before playing sports in high school. After completing this list of required physical exams however, it becomes easy to put off physical exams for quite some time, but this timeline of physical exams may not be enough to promote your overall health.

According to a recent article, physical exams should be a priority as you age. Why? The routine tests performed during this annual checkup are the easiest and most efficient way to help prevent a future health risk. 

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What to Expect

Even though we know why physical exams should be a priority, it’s understandable to be uncomfortable with the idea of going in for an annual examination. However, it is important to realize that these exams can go a long way in benefitting your health.

If it has been a while since your last physical exam and you’re not too sure what to expect, here is a list of the common routine screenings according to WebMd:

  • Appearance. Physical exams aren’t just about checking your vital signs – doctors also examine your mental quickness, memory, balance and the health of your skin simply by observing and talking to you.
  • Family History & Lifestyle Behavior. Doctors like to keep an updated list of your family’s medical history to determine if you’re at risk of a condition that runs in your family. Your physician may also ask about your diet and exercise along with any habits that may be detrimental to your health, such as smoking or excessive alcohol use.
  • Vital Signs. Below is a list of the vital signs doctors usually check and the healthy values for each:
    • Blood pressure: 120 over 80
    • Heart rate: anywhere between 60 and 100
    • Respiration rate: 12 to 16 breaths per minute
    • Temperature: 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Exams:
    • Heart
    • Lung
    • Head/Neck
    • Abdominal
    • Neurological
    • Dermatological

Be advised that this is a general list – it is entirely up to your physician to determine what tests to conduct, but don’t be afraid to ask why a test or procedure is necessary. It’s also important to note that there may be additional tests that you may take based on your gender.

How To Get The Most Out of Your Exam

In order to get the most out of your physical exam, perhaps the most important thing is to fully trust your physician. Your physician can only help you as much as you are willing to disclose to them. Even if it seems insignificant, it’s best to explain any new changes in your life. For example, if you are preparing to move or if you recently changed careers, talk to your physician about it as these changes could affect your stress levels.

Has this scenario ever happened to you: you have some questions you want your physician to answer, but once you arrive at the doctor’s office, you completely forget them? It can be easy for all of us to forget these things, which is why it’s helpful to write out and bring with you a list of questions to ask your doctor.

The whole purpose of a physical exam is to prevent the development of any illnesses, but don’t forget that exercise and a healthy diet go a long way in promoting your health outside the doctor’s office. 


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