One of AICR’s 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations is to be physically active as part of your everyday life. In other words, move more and sit less. More specifically, AICR recommends being physically active at a moderate-vigorous intensity for at least 30 minutes, at least 5 times a week. Even more activity may be better – and if these benchmarks can’t be reached, some activity is better than none.
Despite this seemingly simple advice, many barriers exist to putting this recommendation into action and about half of Americans are not getting enough physical activity. Our society has largely engineered physical activity out of our daily lives, making it difficult for us to meet recommendations. Fortunately, there are actions governments can take to make physical activity easier, such as creating and enhancing parks, sidewalks and bike lanes, and promoting their use. Schools and childcare settings can also be required to provide physical education or a minimum amount of physical activity time before, during and after the school day.
To help governments identify evidence-based policy options and see where such policies have been implemented globally, our sister organization the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF) has launched the MOVING Framework and its accompanying policy database. With funding provided through the European Union’s Confronting Obesity: Co-creating policy with youth project (CO-CREATE), WCRF launched the MOVING framework for physical activity policies to complement the existing NOURISHING framework for diet and nutrition.
As with NOURISHING, the letters of MOVING stand for six policy areas where action is needed to increase physical activity to promote a healthy weight and reduce cancer risk. The six policy areas are grouped into the domains of active societies, active environments and active people. All of the policy areas fall under the heading of active systems, recognizing that factors such as leadership, research funding, financing and policy monitoring and evaluation are important for strong policies across all areas. The policy database contains examples of policies in these six areas that are in effect at the national level in countries around the world, supported by their government and verified by in-country experts. New policies are being added regularly.
In a launch webinar for the databases, two US-based researchers, Barry Popkin, Ph.D., with the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, and Jim Sallis, Ph.D., with the Department of Family Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, explained how they are using the NOURISHING and MOVING frameworks and databases. More information about MOVING is available on the WCRF blog.
Policies in Action
In the US, policies to increase physical activity have been enacted at all levels of government. For example, consistent with the “M” in MOVING, which stands for “Make programmes, opportunities, and initiatives that promote physical activity a priority,” the US Department of Health and Human Services has issued the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines provide evidence-based recommendations for how Americans can increase their physical activity to improve their health. The associated Move Your Way campaign provides tools and materials that help people add physical activity into their daily lives. AICR’s Cancer Prevention Recommendations and related materials align closely with the US Physical Activity Guidelines.
Consistent with the “G” in MOVING, which stands for “Give physical activity education, assessment, and counseling,” AICR is working to increase access to physical activity and lifestyle counseling through behavior change. As a founding member of the Physical Activity Alliance (PAA), AICR is working with other like-minded nonprofit, professional and industry associations to embed physical activity assessment and prescription in health care delivery and promotion.
In addition, 35 states and hundreds of localities in the US have made progress toward the “I,” which stands for “Implement urban, rural, and transport plans that support active societies,” by enacting “complete streets” policies that ensure streets are safe and accessible for all users, including bikers and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. AICR is dedicated to supporting the passage and implementation of policies in the US that make it easier for people to be physically active for cancer prevention and survivorship. Learn more about AICR’s public policy priorities here.