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Wellness Visit for Adults

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 4, 2022.

What is a wellness visit?

A wellness visit is when you see your healthcare provider to get screened for health problems. Your healthcare provider will also give you advice on how to stay healthy. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them. Ask your healthcare provider how often you should have a wellness visit.

What happens at a wellness visit?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your health, and your family history of health problems. This includes high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. He or she will ask if you have symptoms that concern you, if you smoke, and about your mood. You may also be asked about your intake of medicines, supplements, food, and alcohol. Any of the following may be done:

  • Your weight will be checked. Your height may also be checked so your body mass index (BMI) can be calculated. Your BMI shows if you are at a healthy weight.
  • Your blood pressure and heart rate will be checked. Your temperature may also be checked.
  • Blood and urine tests may be done. Blood tests may be done to check your cholesterol levels. Abnormal cholesterol levels increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. You may also need a blood or urine test to check for diabetes if you are at increased risk. Urine tests may be done to look for signs of an infection or kidney disease.
  • A physical exam includes checking your heartbeat and lungs with a stethoscope. Your healthcare provider may also check your skin to look for sun damage.
  • Screening tests may be recommended. A screening test is done to check for diseases that may not cause symptoms. The screening tests you may need depend on your age, gender, family history, and lifestyle habits. For example, colorectal screening may be recommended if you are 50 years old or older.

What screening tests do I need if I am a woman?

  • A Pap smear is used to screen for cervical cancer. Pap smears are usually done every 3 to 5 years depending on your age. You may need them more often if you have had abnormal Pap smear test results in the past. Ask your healthcare provider how often you should have a Pap smear.
  • A mammogram is an x-ray of your breasts to screen for breast cancer. Experts recommend mammograms every 2 years starting at age 50 years. You may need a mammogram at age 49 years or younger if you have an increased risk for breast cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider about when you should start having mammograms and how often you need them.

What vaccines might I need?

  • Get an influenza vaccine every year. The influenza vaccine protects you from the flu. Several types of viruses cause the flu. The viruses change over time, so new vaccines are made each year.
  • Get a tetanus-diphtheria (Td) booster vaccine every 10 years. This vaccine protects you against tetanus and diphtheria. Tetanus is a severe infection that may cause painful muscle spasms and lockjaw. Diphtheria is a severe bacterial infection that causes a thick covering in the back of your mouth and throat.
  • Get a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine if you are female and aged 19 to 26 or male 19 to 21 and never received it. This vaccine protects you from HPV infection. HPV is the most common infection spread by sexual contact. HPV may also cause vaginal, penile, and anal cancers.
  • Get a pneumococcal vaccine if you are aged 65 years or older. The pneumococcal vaccine is an injection given to protect you from pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by pneumococcal bacteria. The infection may cause pneumonia, meningitis, or an ear infection.
  • Get a shingles vaccine if you are 60 or older, even if you have had shingles before. The shingles vaccine is an injection to protect you from the varicella-zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles is a painful rash that develops in people who had chickenpox or have been exposed to the virus.

How can I eat healthy?

My Plate is a model for planning healthy meals. It shows the types and amounts of foods that should go on your plate. Fruits and vegetables make up about half of your plate, and grains and protein make up the other half. A serving of dairy is included on the side of your plate. The amount of calories and serving sizes you need depends on your age, gender, weight, and height. Examples of healthy foods are listed below:

  • Eat a variety of vegetables such as dark green, red, and orange vegetables. You can also include canned vegetables low in sodium (salt) and frozen vegetables without added butter or sauces.
  • Eat a variety of fresh fruits , canned fruit in 100% juice, frozen fruit, and dried fruit.
  • Include whole grains. At least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains. Examples include whole-wheat bread, wheat pasta, brown rice, and whole-grain cereals such as oatmeal.
  • Eat a variety of protein foods such as seafood (fish and shellfish), lean meat, and poultry without skin (turkey and chicken). Examples of lean meats include pork leg, shoulder, or tenderloin, and beef round, sirloin, tenderloin, and extra lean ground beef. Other protein foods include eggs and egg substitutes, beans, peas, soy products, nuts, and seeds.
  • Choose low-fat dairy products such as skim or 1% milk or low-fat yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese.
  • Limit unhealthy fats such as butter, hard margarine, and shortening.

How much exercise do I need?

Exercise at least 30 minutes per day on most days of the week. Some examples of exercise include walking, biking, dancing, and swimming. You can also fit in more physical activity by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking farther away from stores. Include muscle strengthening activities 2 days each week. Regular exercise provides many health benefits. It helps you manage your weight, and decreases your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Exercise can also help improve your mood. Ask your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.

Walking for Exercise

What are some general health and safety guidelines I should follow?

  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Limit alcohol. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
  • Lose weight, if needed. Being overweight increases your risk of certain health conditions. These include heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
  • Protect your skin. Do not sunbathe or use tanning beds. Use sunscreen with a SPF 15 or higher. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you go outside. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Wear protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses when you are outside.
  • Drive safely. Always wear your seatbelt. Make sure everyone in your car wears a seatbelt. A seatbelt can save your life if you are in an accident. Do not use your cell phone when you are driving. This could distract you and cause an accident. Pull over if you need to make a call or send a text message.
  • Practice safe sex. Use latex condoms if are sexually active and have more than one partner. Your healthcare provider may recommend screening tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Wear helmets, lifejackets, and protective gear. Always wear a helmet when you ride a bike or motorcycle, go skiing, or play sports that could cause a head injury. Wear protective equipment when you play sports. Wear a lifejacket when you are on a boat or doing water sports.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.