In 2009, Kaiser Permanente started asking patients how much physical activity they get in a week and recording their answers electronically. The health provider considers those responses as important as other vital signs like heart rate.
An assessment of more than a million and a half patient responses shows only a third were meeting federal standards for exercise. The other two thirds were either not getting enough activity or were getting none at all.
Dr. Jessie Zhang is a family doctor in Bellflower. She says she now hands patients prescriptions for a daily half hour of exercise.
ZHANG: "My patients will say, ok my kids have a sports game on the weekends and we just sit on the lawn chair and watch and eating popcorns. And I tell them, you know what? Get rid of the lawn chair and get up and walk!"
The U.S. Department of Health And Human Services recommends two and a half hours of moderate exercise weekly. That includes activities like dancing or gardening.