Physical activity (PA) participation offers many benefits especially among ethnic groups that experience health disparities. Partnering with faith-based organizations allows for a more culturally tailored approach to changing health behaviors.
8 Steps to Fitness was a faith-based behavior-change intervention promoting PA among members of African American churches. A quasi-experimental design was used to examine differences between the intervention group (n=72) and comparison group (n = 74). Health (resting blood pressure, body mass index, waist-hip ratio, fasting blood glucose), psycho-social (PA self-efficacy, social support, enjoyment, self-regulation, depression), and behavioral variables (PA, diet) were assessed at baseline, 3- and 6-months. Repeated measures ANCOVAs tested changes across time between groups.
At 3-months, the intervention group showed significantly more favorable changes in body mass index, waist circumference and social support than the control group. At 6-months, the intervention group showed significantly more favorable changes in hip circumference, waist to hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, and depressive symptoms. There was notable attrition from both the intervention (36%) and the comparison group (58%).
This study was conducted in a real-world setting, and provided insight into how to deliver a culturally-tailored PA intervention program for African Americans with a potential for dissemination.