Annual PhysicalYou work out, you eat healthfully, you feel great and you have no worrying symptoms to report – there’s no need for you to get an annual physical when you feel healthy, right?

Wrong. You may feel like you’re body’s in great condition, but how do you know that there isn’t a problem hidden beneath the surface? How do you even know you’re in full health if you don’t have a physical exam and blood tests to check?

Annual physicals are a crucial aspect of maintaining good health, and people of all ages should be sure to schedule theirs each year without fail. Here are four ways in which your annual physical will improve your health.

1. Getting to know your health baseline

By visiting your doctor annually for a full health check, you will give them a good understanding of your health baseline – that is, what your body looks like and performs like when you’re in good health. This means that when you visit your doctor about a specific health problem or concern, they’ll be able to make better assessments of your condition by comparing your unhealthy state to your health baseline. Faster diagnoses means faster treatment in the event of illness and a higher chance of full recovery.

2. Discovering underlying conditions

Some medical conditions can wreak havoc on the body for weeks or even months before they show any serious symptoms to the sufferer, so an annual physical is a valuable method for identifying any underlying conditions before they become too serious. Prostate cancer, for example, can cause few symptoms in its early stages, but it can be detected with blood tests.

If left undetected, prostate cancer can quickly spread throughout the rest of the body and become difficult to treat, but when caught early via an annual physical, doctors can treat the condition before it becomes too severe. Many other diseases are the same – don’t let them go unnoticed and untreated.

3. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Armed with knowledge about your physical health, your doctor can help to support you in maintaining a healthy lifestyle by giving you nutrition and exercise advice that is best suited to your body and health level. No matter if you’re planning on starting new exercise and eating habits to become healthier, or you’re already living a healthy lifestyle and want to know if you’re on the right track, your doctor will support you through it and give valuable advice at your annual physical.

4. Assessing risk of future health conditions

During annual physicals, your doctor will consider your family history and medical history together and use it to guide their assessment of your health. For example, if your blood pressure reading is slightly high and you have a history of heart attack in your family, your doctor may want to take steps to prevent your BP rising any further, perhaps with medication or by advising on a new diet and exercise regime. By having annual health checks, you can allow your doctor to better assess and measure your risk of developing future health conditions and take preventative measures where possible.