Perceived Environmental Church Support and Physical Activity Among Black Church Members

Meghan Baruth, Sara Wilcox, Ruth P. Saunders, Steven P. Hooker, James R. Hussey, Steven N. Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background. Churches are an appealing setting for implementing health-related behavior change programs. Purpose. The objective of the study was to examine the relationship between perceived environmental church support for physical activity (PA) and PA behaviors. Method. Black church members from South Carolina (n = 309) wore an Actigraph accelerometer prior to the initiation of an intervention. Relationships between moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA; counts ≥1,952), light PA (LPA; counts 100-1951), sedentary behavior (counts <100), and perceived environmental church support for PA (total, spoken informational, written informational, instrumental) were examined. Support × Gender interactions examined whether relationships differed by gender. Results. The mean age was 54.0 ± 12.3 years and mean body mass index was 32.9 ± 7.2 kg/m2. On average, participants engaged in 14.4 ± 13.7 minutes/day of MVPA, 289.8 ± 82.4 minutes/day of LPA, and were sedentary 548.9 ± 102.2 minutes/day. Total, spoken informational, and written informational church support were significantly related to higher levels of LPA and lower levels of sedentary behavior in men but not women. The relationship between written informational support and MVPA approached significance for men but not women. Instrumental church support was not associated with PA behaviors. Conclusion. The church environment may have an important influence on Black church members' PA behavior, particularly men's, and thus should be targeted in interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)712-720
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Education and Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • accelerometer
  • church environment
  • church support
  • faith-based
  • physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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