When was the last time you had a regular medical check-up?
If you are healthy and take no medications, there’s a good chance it’s been quite a while.
And though it may seem unnecessary to see a doctor unless you are sick, there are a number of reasons why it is a good idea to get at least yearly check-up.
According to government recommendations, men and women from ages 18-21 should have a wellness visit every year, then “at least” every 4 years until age 49. From ages 50-64, the recommendation changes to every 2 years, then becomes yearly.
There are different recommended tests for each of the age groups and they are listed in a chart, which you can find in the reference section of this article.
If you over 21 and less than 65, government recommendations recommend less than yearly visits. Additionally, the same recommendations advise cholesterol checks every 5 years, blood pressure checks every 2 years up until 65. This is less frequent than most people assume and I recommend.
For example, if you come into the office with an asthma attack and your physician knows that you work hard to keep a healthy weight and body fat percentage (and that you struggle with sugar cravings), he may be more willing to try to treat it without using prednisone, which can cause weight gain and increase carb cravings.
Although an EKG may be normal with this condition, they are frequently abnormal. The test is fast and noninvasive, so it is worth asking for.
If you are not confident in your doctor’s skills, I highly recommend finding another one.
Unfortunately, primary care physicians (or any physician of any specialty for that matter) who have knowledge of exercise, nutrition, and supplementation are few and far between.
If you are reading this article, you are likely interested in all three, and simply seeing a generic physician more frequently than the recommendations dictate may be a waste of your time unless you have a specific list of tests you would like done. A well-versed doctor should test for these things without you asking, but being prepared will ensure you get the most out of your visit if your doctor strictly follows published guidelines.
Note: If you are lucky enough to see a physician with a background in fitness and nutrition, you may benefit from seeing him or her more than yearly. I see a number of extremely fit patients every 2 months or so. During our appointments, I adjust their resistance and cardio programs, tune up their nutrition programs and discuss the latest research on supplementation.
Hopefully this list is helpful in deciding how often you need to visit your doctor, and what kinds of things, especially related to health and fitness, you should discuss together. I believe yearly check-ups are well worth the time, especially if you come prepared.