Understanding physical activity participation in members of an African American church: A qualitative study

Melissa Bopp, Diana Lattimore, Sara Wilcox, Marilyn Laken, Lottie McClorin, Rosetta Swinton, Octavia Gethers, Deborah Bryant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Faith-based interventions hold promise for increasing physical activity (PA) and thereby reducing health disparities. This paper examines the perceived influences on PA participation, the link between spirituality and health behaviors and the role of the church in promoting PA in African Americans. Participants (n = 44) were adult members of African American churches in South Carolina. In preparation for a faith-based intervention, eight focus groups were conducted with sedentary or underactive participants. Groups were stratified by age (<55 years versus ≥55 years), geography and gender. Four general categories were determined from the focus groups: spirituality, barriers, enablers and desired PA programs. Personal, social, community and environmental barriers and enablers were described by both men and women, with no apparent differences by age. Additionally, both men and women mentioned aerobics, walking programs, sports and classes specifically for older adults as PA programs they would like available at church. This study provides useful information for understanding the attitudes and experiences with exercise among African Americans, and provides a foundation for promoting PA through interventions with this population by incorporating spirituality, culturally specific activities and social support within the church.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)815-826
Number of pages12
JournalHealth education research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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