My children are active and in good health, but don’t participate in organized sports. Should I be taking them for a yearly “back-to-school” physical even if they are not playing a sport?
All children, whether actively participating in a sports program or not, should be seen by their doctor at the start of each new school year. Often the only visit most children have with thei... read more
All children, whether actively participating in a sports program or not, should be seen by their doctor at the start of each new school year. Often the only visit most children have with their doctor every year, an annual back-to-school physical exam provides a long-term history of the child’s progress and development over time. This helps your pediatrician or family physician detect emerging problems, and log important medical details of past illnesses or injuries.
In addition to a regular physical, children involved in athletics require an in depth, pre-participation physical exam. This exam, although more limited than a regular physical, helps determine whether it’s safe for a child to participate in a particular sport. During a pre-participation exam, the doctor can identify health problems that might interfere with participation in a sport, and will educate patients on preventing overuse and overtraining injuries.
As a nation, our children are in the midst of an epidemic health crisis. Childhood obesity and diabetes are at all-time highs, while financing for school athletics and physical education continue to be cut. As doctors, we are paying more attention to obesity-related issues, and in addition to monitoring heart and blood pressure, pediatricians/family practice physicians use these annual visits to discuss diet and exercise options. We talk with the child and parents about safe approaches to transitioning from little or no exercise to a sound, achievable exercise program. Establishing a strong patient/doctor relationship early in a child’s life creates a “go to” resource for important health information.
Whatever the child’s interest — sports, academics, the arts — we want to be sure their interest is a healthy one, and it’s balanced with the other aspects of the child’s life. A healthy childhood and adolescence calls for balancing home life, school, social activities, sports, and extracurricular pursuits. This is not easy, especially when the child is passing through the years of growth, learning, and emotional and physical development. This is all the more reason to set aside one day during each of those years for your child to see their doctor.