Faith Can Provide Motivation for Exercise

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 8 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say faith-based interventions helped encourage exercise in older African-American women.

Lead researcher Dr. O. Kenrik Duru of the University of California, Los Angeles, says African-American women age 60 or older encouraged to exercise in conjunction with scripture reading and group prayer had a 78 percent increase in steps per week — equivalent to about 3 extra miles.

The randomized, controlled study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, finds the increase in exercise in the faith intervention group was four times greater than that of the control group encouraged to exercise without faith-based interventions.

“The rationale for this study is our belief that health promotion efforts for African-Americans must take advantage of existing community strengths to be sustained and be successful, such as members of the same church having a sense of communal identity,” Duru says in a statement. “Our findings suggest that interventions using faith-based strategies may be effective in changing behavior among older African-American women, which could improve health and potentially delay the progression to disability in this population.”

The study included 34 women in the intervention group and 28 in the control group recruited from a Catholic, an African Methodist Episcopal and Seventh Day Adventist church in the Los Angeles area. Both groups met to exercise 45 minutes once weekly for eight weeks.

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