Incorporating religion and spirituality into the design of community-based physical activity programs for African American women: a qualitative inquiry
Limited research has examined how aspects of religion and spirituality can be incorporated into community-based physical activity programs delivered outside of religious institutions. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore how spirituality and religion can be leveraged in the design of community-based physical activity programs for African American women delivered outside of faith-based or faith-placed settings.
Three focus groups were conducted were conducted with 23 African American women (M age = 37.8 years, M BMI = 39.6 kg m[superscript 2]). Results showed that incorporating aspects of spirituality (i.e., words encouraging connectedness to a higher power, meditation, mind–body activities) into a physical activity program was universally accepted among participants, regardless of religious affiliation. In contrast, including concepts of religion (i.e., bible verses and/or quotes from religious leaders) was controversial and not recommended among women who did not identify with a religious faith. Findings indicate that when developing community-based physical activity interventions that will not be delivered through faith-based or faith-placed settings, researchers should avoid references to specific religious beliefs. Instead, interventions should focus on spirituality and emphasize the mind–body relationship between physical activity and an African American women’s inner-being and her connectedness with a higher power.