Faith community nurses promote physical activity among congregants

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A new study led by WVU School of Nursing researchers Angel Smothers and Stephanie Young suggests that faith community nurses may be effective in promoting adherence to an exercise program. The study focused on 14 church members who participated in a 12-week walking and exercise program, with the guidance of a community nurse. Participants reported that they had more energy and more time to exercise after completing the program. Credit: WVU Photo

If someone joins a church, mosque, or synagogue, they may be looking for better emotional or spiritual health. But according to research from the University of West Virginia, religious communities also have the potential to promote physical well-being.

A new study led by Angel Smothers, Stephanie Young and Elizabeth Morrissey — researchers at the WVU School of Nursing — and James Thomas of the Faculty of Medicine’s Exercise Physiology Division suggests that working directly with a faith community can help congregants follow an exercise program.

Their results appear in Journal of Interprofessional Education and Practice.

“Even in biblical texts, there were always caregivers who cared for people in the early congregations, so it’s not a new idea,” said Smothers, a clinical associate professor in the Department of Family / Community Health. “But in the ministerial program can be of any origin of faith. It’s not just a Christian concept. “

Regardless of the range of beliefs that are different you can subscribe, the goal of any health care provider in the religious community is the same: to discover and meet the specific health needs of the congregation.

The study included 14 participants members of a Christian congregation.

When the study began in 2018, participants completed surveys to identify their current exercise habits, describe their personal health overview, and identify what, if any, they were adhering to. difficult.

After being guided through a 12-week program of exercise, health education, and devotional discussions, they conducted the surveys again. Participants tended to report more favorable responses about whether they had time to exercise and whether they needed more time to sleep or regain rest. They also reported improved comfort with regular exercise.

These results suggest that the program encouraged better time management, provided participants with more energy, or did both.

This is especially important because Disease Control and Prevention Centers list the lack of time and energy as a common barrier to physical activity.

Ministry of Health programs can offer a way to improve the longevity of exercise programs.

“We know that when people have social support, they are more likely to participate in activities like these,” said Young, assistant professor of clinic and doctorate. student of the Department of Family / Community Health. “The little research on community-based nursing faith shows that a spiritual component can be a reason. If people believe they can serve God better by being healthier (if they believe God wants them to take care of themselves), then this it can be even more internal motivation “.

During the 12-week study period, participants attended two one-hour meetings at the church gym twice a week.

The first hour consisted of an exercise routine developed by researchers from the Exercise Physiology Division of the Faculty of Medicine. The exercises took into account the safety and physical abilities of the participants. For example, participants with mobility problems may be assigned activities that they could perform while sitting, instead of asking them to walk around the gym.

During the second hour, participants discussed health-related issues with the faith community nurse, who monitored their health, checked their vital aspects, and answered questions about their medications, symptoms, and ways to treat them. preserve your health.

“You know, we had young people with high blood pressure and they had no idea until we checked,” Smothers said.

“It was multidimensional, as some people were going to walk around a bit, but what they really liked was the devotional and educational piece,” Smothers said. “Some people would not feel like walking, but they would continue to check their blood pressure and stay educational and devotional.”

Once someone has adopted a new habit of walking or has been part of another physical activity routine, the benefits can be numerous. According to the CDC, they tend to lose weight; lower blood pressure; reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and some forms of cancer; and relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

In this case, the file it proved so popular that it continued beyond the twelve weeks that the study included. It lasted more than a year and a half, until COVID finished it.

“This project was just one example of how an association between religious nurses and professionals in the profession of another discipline, which for us was physiology: it can really become meaningful bags of access to care, “Smothers said.” Because that was really what it was. It’s definitely something that can be done from the ground up, meeting people right where they are. ”


Faith-Based Fitness Programs: What’s for You?


More information:
Angel Smothers et al, Limiting barriers to exercise by developing a faith-based community walking program, Journal of Interprofessional Education & Practice (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.xjep.2021.100428

Citation: Faith Community Nurses Promote Physical Activity Among Congregated (2021, June 3) Retrieved June 3, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-faith-community-nurses-physical -congregants.html

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