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Have Faith, Lose Weight: New Study Connects Faith and Fitness

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By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service

(RNS) Adding faith to the exercise regimen of African-American women may prompt them to be more fit, a UCLA study shows.

Researchers studying black women from three Los Angeles churches who participated in faith-based physical activity found the women increased their walking by about three miles per week.

The study results, published this month (October) in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, involved 62 Catholic, African Methodist Episcopal and Seventh-day Adventist women. All participated in exercises but some also listened to scripture reading and participated in group
prayer. Others, in a control group, listened instead to lectures on topics such as memory loss and identity theft.

The women involved in the faith-based program increased their weekly steps by 78 percent while those in the control group saw an increase of 19 percent.

"Our findings suggest that interventions using faith-based strategies may be effective in changing behavior among older African-American women," said Dr. O. Kenrik Duru, the lead researcher from UCLA.

Researchers pursued the study based on previous findings that older black women are the least physically active among race and sex subgroups in the country and more than 95 percent of older African-American adults say they pray almost daily.

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