A Comprehensive Review of Faith-Based Physical Activity Interventions

Melissa Bopp, Jane A. Peterson, Benjamin L. Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


This review provides a summary of physical activity interventions delivered in faith-based organizations. Electronic databases were searched to identify relevant studies. After screening, a total of n = 27 articles matched our inclusion criteria; 19 were identified as faith-based interventions (some spiritual or Biblical element included in the intervention) and 8 as faith-placed interventions (no spiritual component). Among all interventions, the most common research design was a randomized controlled trial. African American women were the most commonly targeted population and predominately Black churches were the most common setting. The majority of studies used self-report measures of physical activity. Most of the interventions did not use a theoretical framework to shape the intervention and weekly group sessions were the most frequently reported intervention approach. Overall, 12 of the faith-based and 4 of the faith-placed interventions resulted in increases in physical activity. Recommendations for future faith-based physical activity interventions include more rigorous study design, improved measures of physical activity, larger sample sizes, longer study and follow-up periods, and the use of theory in design and evaluation. Although limited, literature on faith-based physical activity interventions shows significant promise for improving physical activity participation and associated health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-478
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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