Sustaining Health Development: Assessment of a Low-cost, Non-denominational, Faith Community-Based Health Promotion Program

By James A. White.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Purpose: Faith community-based health promotion programming that combines exercise, health education, spirituality, and social support/networking has the potential to improve the quality of life and well-being of older adults. The purpose of this research was to determine if involvement in a faith community-based health promotion program titled Faithfully Fit Forever (FFF) impacted participants’ physical and psychosocial health. FFF is an inter-disciplinary program that was created ten-plus years ago by a healthcare system in the upper Midwest. Parish nurses and others are trained to safely implement and lead exercise-based health promotion programs in their communities. This research attempts to provide insight into the effectiveness this program. Methods/Study Design: Study participants completed a quality of life questionnaire and a battery of functional fitness tests. Subjects included 106 adults (mean age = 68.3) from 11 faith communities who participated FFF program. For comparative purposes, this study also included 72 adults (mean age = 68.7) subjects not participating in FFF. Results: The results suggest that FFF participants that had been in the program for more than 5 years had greater lower body strength, (p=.026), dynamic balance (p=.013), flexibility (p=.008) than non-participants. Differences were found in self-reported (RAND SF-36) levels of physical functioning (p = .015) and social functioning (p = .002) of FFF participants compared to non-participants. Conclusions: The results from this study suggest that faith community-based programming can favorably impact flexibility, strength and dynamic balance, as well as quality of life of participants.

Keywords: Faith-community, Health Promotion, Exercise

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.13-26. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 841.449KB).

Dr. James A. White

Associate Professor, Department of Physical Education, Health and Sport, Bemidji State University, Bemidji, MN, USA

Jim White received his Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science/Sport Management with a minor in Psychology from Bemidji State University, Bemidji MN in 1994. He was awarded a Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky in 1997. In 2007 Jim was awarded a Ph.D. in Human Development with an emphasis on Wellness from North Dakota State University Jim has attained certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine (Exercise Specialist) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist). Jim has been employed in the fitness/health/rehabilitation field for 15 years. Jim worked in MeritCare Health System (Fargo, ND) Cardiac Rehabilitation department for 8 years as an Exercise Physiologist working with patients with cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. Jim was also in involved in the creation and implementation of Faithfully Fit Forever, a faith community based health promotion program. Currently, Jim is Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Education, Health and Sport at Bemidji State University.