sports physicalsObesity in the United States is a problem. So much so, that chronic diseases make up seven out of 10 deaths each year. To reduce your child’s chances of becoming one of the 70% of obese youth at risk for cardiovascular disease, have them take a sports physical and join a sport. Here are some common questions on physicals for sports and what you can expect.

What is a sports physical?
Sports physicals are check-ups designed to assess a teen’s health and fitness as it relates to a sport. It is different from a typical school physical, in that the family doctor tests for any diseases or injuries that could be unsafe for the athlete to participate in sports.

Where is a sports physical done?
A pediatrician can perform the sports physical, but so can physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners. Some medical clinics and schools also offer physicals for sports.

When is a sports physical done?
It is recommended to have sports physicals performed six to eight weeks prior to the sports season starting. This allows time to treat a condition, in case one is discovered during the physical. If done within the right time frame, the athlete can recover and be cleared to play in the upcoming season.

What can be expected during a sports physical?
The healthcare provider usually starts with a thorough medical history. This involves asking about any history of illness, hospitalizations, or injuries that could restrain the athlete from playing. The student will also fill out a questionnaire in order to get a better idea for daily habits and lifestyle choices.

After the medical history and questions are done, a physical exam is performed. During this process, the doctor will:

  • Measure height and weight
  • Take pulse rate and blood pressure
  • Check the heart and lungs
  • Check neurological function like reflexes, coordination, and strength
  • Test vision and hearing
  • Check the ears, nose, and throat
  • Look at joint flexibility, mobility, spinal alignment, and posture
  • Ask for a urine sample for urine testing
  • Immunizations if needed
    It’s no secret that physical health is important. This is because health problems impact productivity, especially with 69 million workers calling in due to illness each year. To keep your child healthy and active, make sure they have sports physicals before starting a sport. Teach them the importance of an active lifestyle so that they can continue as adults.