When Is the Best Time to Get a Physical Exam?

Physical exams are an essential part of your routine medical care and help doctors evaluate your overall health. Understanding when to get a physical can help you avoid problems later in life. In fact, you should get checkups even if you feel fine. Why?

Physical exams are useful for children interested in starting a new sport or physical activity and for potential job candidates. These supplemental exams are called preparticipation and pre-employment physicals, respectively, and should not serve as a substitute for regular, comprehensive health maintenance.  

Some health conditions like high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol may not have any symptoms in the early stages but can lead to serious health complications if left untreated. Preparticipation and pre-employment exams help rule out or identify and treat certain health conditions that could affect your performance.

When should you get a physical exam?

Routine physical exams

Healthy adults aged 50 and older with no known health issues should get a routine physical exam every year. Healthy adults younger than 50 should get a routine physical exam once every three years. Those with a chronic disease or ongoing health issues should talk to their doctor about when to get a physical exam as well as how often they’re needed.

Physical exams are also a safe and effective way to:

  • Screen for diseases
  • Assess risk factors for future medical problems
  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle
  • Update vaccinations
  • Maintain a relationship with your doctor in case of illness

Talk to your doctor to find out how often you should get a routine physical exam, based on your unique needs.

Preparticipation and pre-performance physical exams

In addition to evaluating the general status of your health, physical exams can be performed as needed to determine whether a person is fit enough to participate in certain sports or to perform the duties required by your job.

What is a preparticipation physical?

A sports physical, or preparticipation physical examination (PPE), helps to determine whether a child can participate in a sport safely. Here is what to expect during a sports physical:

  • Vital sign evaluation (e.g., blood pressure, pulse, temperature, respiration, height and weight)
  • Eye exam
  • Medical history
  • Fitness check to identify any areas of vulnerability (e.g., past injury, asthma, flexibility, etc.)

What is a pre-employment physical?

A pre-employment physical is a medical exam that employers may require potential new hires to complete. This helps ensure candidates are physically and mentally capable of doing the tasks required by the job. Though specific employer requirements may vary, pre-employment physicals typically include:

  • Vital sign evaluation (e.g., blood pressure, pulse, temperature, respiration, height and weight)
  • Eye Exam
  • Medical history
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Tuberculosis testing
  • Titers (immunity tests for Varicella and Hepatitis B)
  • Vaccinations (including tetanus and flu shots)
  • Covid-19
  • Covid-19 antibody testing

Whether you need a physical for sports-related activities or pre-employment, visit Getwell Urgent Care for a physical exam between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. We welcome walk-in appointments 7 days a week.