On 21st June, the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRFI) hosted a webinar to showcase their new report ‘Building Momentum: Establishing robust policies to promote physical activity in primary healthcare’. This outlines the importance of integrating physical activity promotion in such healthcare settings and provides recommendations for effective enactment.

The session was opened by Dr Kate Allen, Executive Director at WCFRI, who highlighted the important protective effects of physical activity for many cancers, as well as against obesity which is a known risk factor for over 13 cancer types. As such, physical activity forms one of WCRFI’s 10 cancer prevention recommendations which highlights the need to create positive environments to support active living.

Next, Kendra Chow, WCRFI Policy & Public Affairs manager, presented an overview of the report. A core message was the necessity for multisectoral action to target where people “live, learn, work and play”. The report stresses the importance of primary healthcare settings for achieving this, given they are the first point of contact for medical care and evidenced to provide a context for affordable, feasible intervention which can produce sustained uptake of physical activity. It suggests policy efficacy can be enhanced through sufficient healthcare professional training and incentivization to include physical activity in practice. Additionally, the report suggests collaborative approaches between stakeholders and sufficient healthcare system capacity for monitoring are also important.

The session continued with two presentations from guest speakers. First, Irene Nilsson-Carisson from the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare discussed the country’s programme for physical activity on prescription, particularly the fact that attention on the least active subpopulations is essential. She also referenced the importance of both aerobic and muscle strengthening activities for health improvement which affirms the important contribution of fitness facilities. Secondly, Dr William Bird, the founder of Intelligent Health, presented work from the UK on integrating physical activity into primary care settings. This included the Moving Healthcare Professionals Programme to embed physical activity into the training process of doctors and nurses. This programme translates evidence into actionable conversation structures for medical consultations.

The session ended with a Q&A session which focused on the need to break siloed action on PA promotion, with the Welsh exercise referral scheme cited as a good example. Conversation also focused on the need to understand inactivity as a continuum and target efforts on the most inactive, rather than using the simple binary of active versus inactive.


Jun 29, 2023 By Ioana Marica