Plan your next physical examination for 2012

The beginning of a new year is a great time to start planning for your medical checkups.

Determining when to have your checkups depends on several different factors. Iowa's Medical Associates Clinic and Health Plan reports that factors you should consider before determining when an exam is necessary include sex, age, medical history and risk factors.

If you are under the age of 50 and have no risk factors to worry about, your checkup may only be necessary once every five years. However, it is usually in your best interest to avoid future risks and complications by seeing your physician at least once per year.

Although you may feel fairly healthy, it's important to consult your doctor about how often he or she would recommend you come in for a physical examination. When scheduling your appointment, always call several weeks in advance to ensure a convenient appointment that you are less likely to forget.

Ideally, you should schedule your physical exam as close to the time of your last exam as possible. For example, let's assume that your doctor advised coming in for your physical exam once per year. If you had your last physical in January of 2011, you should reschedule your next exam for January 2012 instead of waiting until July 2012.

Once you have scheduled your physical examination, be prepared to ask certain questions to get a better understanding of your health. Ask your physician what you can do to improve your health in case your physical isn't as positive as you expected.

Find out how well you measure up to other adults in your age group to see what you could be doing differently to enjoy better health. Your physician should detail the results of the physical and let you know additional medical treatments and lifestyle changes you should be making from this point.

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John Granger trys to stay proactive about his health, including regular preventive screenings. (Photo by Crissy Pascula/Infinite Media Works)
John Granger trys to stay proactive about his health, including regular preventive screenings. (Photo by Crissy Pascula/Infinite Media Works)

Discuss the risks, rewards of health screenings such as colonoscopies, mammograms, cholesterol checks and prostate exams with your primary care physician.

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