Incorporating religion and spirituality into the design of community-based physical activity programs for African American women: a qualitative inquiry

Document
Description

Objective
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

Objective
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.
Results
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.