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Local Churches Help Latinas Get Healthy

An SDSU-UCSD Cancer Center Comprehensive Partnership study looks to faith-based organizations to inspire physical fitness.
Researchers will train women at eight local churches to conduct physical activity programs, such as walking groups and exercise classes.
Researchers will train women at eight local churches to conduct physical activity programs, such as walking groups and exercise classes.

Churches play an important role in Latina communities and a new study from the SDSU-UCSD Cancer Center Comprehensive Partnership hopes to tap into that community to enhance physical activity among women.

Nurturing body and soul

With the low prevalence of physical activity among Latinas contributing to high rates of chronic diseases including cancer, Elva Arredondo (SDSU) and Matthew Allison (UCSD) hope to change that by installing physical activity programs within local faith-based organizations.

“These are great organizations to partner with because their mission is to nurture both the physical body and soul,” Arredondo said. 

“What better way to do that then to inspire health and physical fitness among their congregations?”

Get moving

Researchers will train women at eight local churches, whom they refer to as “promotoras,” to conduct physical activity programs such as walking groups and exercise classes. Additional churches will serve as control groups and will receive cancer prevention and treatment information.

Once fitness programs are established, the physical activity of women church-goers will be tracked using accelerometers over the course of two years to see if their activity levels increase. In addition, weight and body mass index of participants will be measured and tracked.

“Previous studies about the physical activity levels of Latinas have focused on clinic-based research, our study uses a novel community-based sample,” Arredondo said.

Researchers will begin collecting data within the next three months in San Diego.

About the partnership

The SDSU-UCSD Cancer Center Comprehensive Partnership designs projects and programs that focus on a broad array of traditionally underserved communities. It aims to implement strong, successful programs to address cancer disparities in ways that were not previously possible.

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