Annual and Sports Physicals

Sports and annual physicals help you understand the current state of your or your child’s health and how to maintain or improve it moving forward.

Sports and annual physicals have slightly different goals—the former helps determine whether it’s safe for athletes to play sports based on their health, and the latter is meant to be a top-to-bottom assessment of overall wellness. Both exams involve a physical assessment and a conversation about medical history. Sports and annual physicals provide crucial information about well-being that patients and their providers can use to maximize health.

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Sports Physicals

North Dakota and Minnesota require student-athletes who will be participating in sports to have a sports physical (also known as a preparticipation exam). A medical provider performs these to certify it’s safe for students to practice and play in games. It’s a good idea to have the exam several weeks before the sports season begins. That way, if the sports physical reveals any issues, there’s time to address them.

During the medical history portion of the exam, the provider will ask about personal and family health history, allergies and medications. The physical evaluation will include checks of:

  • Height and weight
  • Vision and hearing
  • Blood pressure and pulse
  • Functioning and health of various body parts and organs, including the joints, heart, lungs and stomach
  • Strength and flexibility

If the sports physical reveals any problems, the provider can recommend additional tests, prescribe treatments or discuss adjustments to improve safety during sports. The provider may also share tips for preventing injuries or improving performance.

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Annual Physicals

Physical exams are annual comprehensive health checkups with a family medicine provider. Unlike sports physicals, which are specific to athletes, these exams are for everyone.

Physical exams are broader in scope than sports physicals. In addition to a discussion of health history and medications and a physical evaluation, a physical exam may include:

  • Discussion about lifestyle factors that affect health—such as smoking, nutrition, exercise, sleep habits and stress—and how to modify them
  • Discussion about risk for chronic health conditions in the future, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke
  • Recommendations for age-appropriate screenings and vaccinations, such as a mammogram, colorectal cancer screening or vaccinations for flu or shingles
  • Lab tests to check blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels or other indicators of health
  • Screenings for behavioral health conditions, such as depression

Need a Sports or an Annual Physical?

To schedule an appointment with a family medicine provider who can perform an annual or sports physical, use MyChart or call 701.780.2587.