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By Lindsey Tanner
The Associated Press
Roll up a sleeve for the blood pressure cuff. Stick out a wrist for the pulse-taking. Lift your tongue for the thermometer. Report how many minutes you are active or getting exercise.
If the last item isn't part of the usual drill at your doctor's office, a movement is afoot to change that. One recent national survey indicated only a third of Americans said their doctors asked about or prescribed physical activity.
Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation's largest nonprofit health insurance plans, made a big push a few years ago to get its doctors in Southern California to ask patients about exercise. Since then, Kaiser has expanded the program across California and to several other states. Now almost 9 million patients are asked at every visit, and some other medical systems are doing it, too.
Doctors generally prescribe exercise first, instead of medication, and for many patients that's often all it takes.
But it is still a challenge; a study looking at the first year of Kaiser's effort showed more than a third of patients said they never exercise.
Dr. Robert Sallis, a Kaiser family doctor said some patients may not be aware that research shows physical inactivity is riskier than high blood pressure, obesity and other health risks people know they should avoid.
As recently as November a government-led study concluded that people who routinely exercise live longer than others, even if they're overweight.