By: Catherine Cooley, CHWC
It’s that time again. Time to get your kids ready for the start of the new school year.
During this busy time, it can be easy to dismiss scheduling an annual physical, especially when there is no health problem present. However, a yearly well-check is an important safeguard for every member of the family. Think of it like an oil change or getting your tires checked. You want to take good care of your most important machine—your body—in order to travel through life with good health.
“A yearly physical is essential for proactive maintenance of good health,” said Dr. Tricia Baird, Priority Health’s medical director. “It is a preventive step with the goal of supporting the total health and well-being of each member of the family.”
Here are 5 reasons to schedule your annual physical and how to make the most out of your appointment this year
- Sports Involvement
Just as professional sports stars need medical care to keep them playing their best, so do student athletes. No matter which sport your child plays—soccer, tennis, football, track, dance or martial arts—there’s always a risk of getting hurt. From minor sprains and strains to more serious conditions such as exercise-induced asthma, a yearly physical will assess sports-specific concerns such as injuries, nutrition, strength and flexibility while providing screening for asthma, vision problems and allergies. Your doctor may even have good training tips and tricks to help your child avoid injuries.
- Tracking Growth and Development
Every child grows and develops at different rates. Annual checkups are an important tool to track your child’s or teen’s progression. Take this opportunity to discuss their milestones, social behaviors and learning and flag any concerns.
- Stay Up-to-Date on Immunizations
It’s also a great time to make sure your family is up-to-date on recommended vaccines. Some schools and child care centers may require your child to have certain recommended vaccines before entrance. According to Dr. Sandra Mayrand, pediatrician at Allina Health, it is best to wait to discuss any immunizations (shots) until during the appointment, to avoid the potential worry and fear it may cause your child.
- Address Adolescent Concerns
As your child is passing through the years of growth, learning, exploration, and emotional development, a yearly physical is an important opportunity for your doctor to address any emotional, developmental or social concerns early on. It presents an opportunity for a discussion on adolescent concerns such as smoking, drinking, drugs, sexual activity and depression. Talking about healthy behaviors during adolescence is an essential step in protecting and preventing potential health risks in your teen’s journey toward adulthood.
- Proactive Maintenance of Good Health
A check-up can be useful in preventing, catching and addressing potential health concerns early on. An annual physical exam is an opportunity to review current health habits with your doctor, discuss proper nutrition and activity, family history and develop a roadmap that will help keep your family on the path to sustaining long-term health.
Making the most of your appointment:
Taking the time to schedule an annual physical for each member of the family gives you the opportunity to make health a priority and confirm that all is well.
Before the appointment, make a list of questions to ask the doctor. Focus on concerns that have come up during the last year, from general health to learning concerns. This preparation will ensure you get all of your questions and concerns answered at the appointment .
Finally, become a partner with your family doctor. An annual physical is an opportunity for you as a parent to partner with your family doctor to reinforce healthy lifestyle choices for your child. After the appointment, put it into practice by making a commitment to model healthy behavior at home all year long.
About the Author: Catherine Cooley, CHWC, is a Health Coach in the Wellness Department at Priority Health. She is passionate about supporting Priority Health members on their journey to improving their health through lifestyle change and achieving their personal best. Catherine is a lifestyle coach through the National Kidney Foundation’s Diabetes Prevention Program and has a background in weight management and corporate wellness programming.