The Top 5 Reasons to Commit to Annual Physical Exams
My reason for writing about the importance of annual physical exams is personal. On February 25, 2016, Steve Edwards passed away after a long battle against an especially aggressive form of mantle cell lymphoma. That name may not mean anything to you, but Steve was an icon in the fitness world and helped create what we now know as BODi (formerly Beachbody). He was a world class athlete in so many different disciplines. His death shocked people like me, who looked up to him for advice and as an example.
After Steve passed away, I made a commitment to myself. I had been very consistent with my fitness and nutrition, but I really hated going to the doctor. If I’m honest, that was fear. I had both ankle and knee surgery before I was 25 and had some very negative associations with hospitals and doctors as a result. I committed to annual physical checks, including detailed blood work as a preventative measure. If someone like Steve could be taken, there was simply no way my view that I was impervious to illness was correct.
And, I did…for four years in a row. During the 2020 pandemic, that care was put on hold. I dismissed my commitment to myself and my obligations to the people around me and simply stopped going in for my annual checkup. I became anxious about it. Small pains or unusual feelings lead me to fear that something was very wrong with my body, but I continued to delay the simple act of an annual physical exam.
I just recently renewed my commitment to myself. My physical exam was somewhat entertaining. The doctor seemed happily confused that I would come to see him for nothing more than purely preventative care. We talked a lot about my ankle and knee and my general physical condition. We talked about my nutrition and habits. Then, their lab pulled my blood and ran it through an extensive exam, including a Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test (see below). My blood work all returned clean with no indications of any problems. That was a sigh of relief. At 51 years old, I remain disease free and take no prescription medications.
So, today I write to encourage you to make a similar commitment. A commitment to yourself. A commitment to your loved ones. A commitment to your health.
Why Are Annual Physical Exams Important?
With that, here are the top five reasons to commit to annual physical exams, including blood work and a visual inspection for potential skin cancer complications.
1. Early Detection Saves Lives
Imagine having a health issue silently brewing within you without any noticeable symptoms. This is more common than you might think. Regular physical examinations are like early warning systems, alerting you to potential health concerns before they become major problems. Conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain cancers can often be detected in their early stages through routine check-ups. Early detection means early intervention, which can make a world of difference in your prognosis and treatment options.
2. Tailored Preventative Care
One-size-fits-all approaches don’t work in healthcare. Each person is unique, and your health needs can vary greatly from someone else’s. Regular physical examinations allow your healthcare provider to create a personalized health plan based on your specific needs, family history, and lifestyle. This tailored approach to preventative care can help you make the right choices in terms of diet, exercise, and medications, if necessary, to keep you in the best possible health.
3. Monitoring Your Vital Signs
Blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other vital signs are essential indicators of your overall health. Regular physical exams keep a close eye on these numbers, helping your healthcare provider identify any concerning trends. Elevated cholesterol levels, for example, can increase your risk of heart disease. By monitoring these vital signs, you can take proactive steps to manage and improve your health, potentially avoiding more serious issues in the future.
4. The Power of Blood Work
Blood work is like a sneak peek into your body’s inner workings. It can reveal important information about your red and white blood cell counts, kidney and liver function, and more. By analyzing your blood, healthcare professionals can identify conditions like anemia, thyroid disorders, or infections that might otherwise go unnoticed. For men, I recommend including a Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, which can provide early detection of Prostate cancer and prompt further analysis. In addition, blood work is a valuable tool for tracking the effectiveness of any ongoing treatments or medications.
5. Peace of Mind
Regular check-ups offer more than just physical benefits; they provide peace of mind. Knowing that you’re taking proactive steps to monitor your health can reduce stress and anxiety about potential health issues. It’s a proactive approach to self-care that empowers you to take control of your well-being.
Remember, regular physical examinations and blood work are not just about reacting to illness – they’re about staying one step ahead. They’re about making informed choices, personalizing your healthcare, and ultimately, investing in a healthier, happier future. So, the next time you think about skipping that annual check-up, remember that it’s a small commitment with the potential for significant long-term rewards. Your health is your most valuable asset, so let’s take care of it, one check-up at a time.
If you want to add a commitment to living a healthier life to the equation, do reach out. I’ve been helping people for decades and would love to get you set up with an affordable and doable plan.