5 Questions to Ask at Your Yearly Physical

Author: Lindsey Ulrich

Being prepared can make your visit a more comfortable experience.



Annual physical exams are important to our overall health and well-being, but many of us fear them because we do not know what to expect. Being prepared can make your visit a more comfortable experience.

Emily Smith, DO, a family physician at McLaren Greater Lansing Primary Care - Okemos suggests these five key questions to ask during the appointment:

1. What are my numbers? (Weight, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar)

 “All of these numbers help define your risk of having a heart attack or stroke,” said Dr. Smith. “Cardiovascular disease is one of the most common causes of death in the US. The good news is that we have a lot of control over things that can improve these numbers. For example, making better food choices and moving more.”

2. Should I change my diet?

 It is important to keep in mind that healthy eating varies from person to person. “A good approach to a healthy diet is to stick to foods that look like the thing that they came from. Avoid bags and boxes to the best of your ability. More detailed advice can follow based on your specific health concerns,” said Dr. Smith.

3. Am I exercising enough?

 The CDC recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and two days of muscle-strengthening activity a week. Physical activity can help support your physical and mental health, but just like healthy eating, these activities can vary from person to person.

“What we know about activities is fairly straightforward. If it hurts, don't do it! The recommendation is to make sure that you have a few minutes of movement every day to not only improve your physical health, but also your mental health,” said Dr. Smith. “Based on your health condition, certain activities may be dangerous, so always check with your family doctor prior to starting a new routine.”

4. Should I be concerned about my mental health?

 Mental and physical health are equally important components of your overall health as poor mental health can lead to harmful behaviors. Studies done during the COVID-19 pandemic, showed 4 in 10 US adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression.

“We all have had an impact from COVID on our mental health. If you are having symptoms, i.e., difficulty sleeping, tearfulness, irritability, or fatigue, it is a great idea to talk to your doctor,” said Dr. Smith. “If you ever have thoughts of self-harm, you need to seek help immediately from a hotline or hospital.”

5. Am I up to date with my preventive health care?

“Preventive care services include things like vaccines, annual health exams, and age-appropriate cancer screenings. Our cancer rates have increased slightly in the last two years because people have fallen behind on their screening,” said Dr. Smith.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Smith, click here. For a list of all providers accepting new patients, click here.

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