1560s, "study and description of natural objects, natural philosophy" (a sense now obsolete), from French physiologie (16c.) or directly from Latin physiologia "natural science, study of nature," from Greek physiologia "natural science, inquiry into nature," from physios "nature" (see physio-) + logia "study" (see -logy). Meaning "science of the normal function of living things" is attested from 1610s. Related: Physiologic; physiologist.
The two words [physics/physiology] had once the same wide meaning of natural science or natural philosophy. They have now been narrowed & differentiated, physics retaining only the properties of matter & energy in inorganic nature, & physiology only the normal functions & phenomena of living beings. [Fowler, 1926]