How long has it been since you’ve seen the doctor?

Not for a quick visit because of a cough and fever or to check out an ache in your back that just doesn’t go away. We’re talking about an annual physical exam.

There are a lot of reasons why a yearly physical may not be on your to-do list. Going to the doctor takes time. And many of us just are reluctant to make an appointment when we’re not sick.

Remember, yearly physicals are an important part of your health care strategy. Here are five reasons to make your appointment today:

1. Develop a relationship with your doctor. An annual exam is set up to give you time to discuss your health history, giving your physician the information that he or she needs to make good decisions. And when you get to know your doctor better, you’re more likely to develop the trust you need to communicate honestly and openly about your health.

2. Stay ahead of any potential health problems. Depending on your age, lifestyle and health history, your doctor can determine what screenings are appropriate for you. Diagnosing disease or a health condition in its earliest stages makes it easier to head off problems or get the immediate treatment you need.

3. Keep your medical records up to date. As doctor’s offices make changes, your records may get lost in the shuffle. When you see your doctor regularly, you can guarantee that your information is up to date in the system, which could be very important if you later need to see another doctor or have to treat a serious illness.

4. Establish your baselines. A physical gives you a way to gauge your health’s progression. It’s important to have records of how your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels change to know what’s normal, and not so normal, for your health.

5. It’s FREE! Most people’s health insurance policies today cover preventative and wellness cares at 100%. To find out the specific preventative benefits your policy covers contact your employer or insurance agent.