||5R01CA218188-02 Interpret this number
||Linking Churches with Parks to Increase Physical Activity Among Latinos
Engaging in regular physical activity (PA) contributes to positive health outcomes, including longevity, better
quality of life, and reduced incidence of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, depression, certain cancers, and
obesity; however, only a minority of U.S. adults meet the minimum guidelines for moderate to vigorous PA
(MVPA), and Latinos are less likely than whites to report meeting the guidelines. Public parks comprise local
infrastructure that can be leveraged for community PA, but tend to be underutilized, particularly in low-income
communities. Parks in low-income and minority communities tend to have less PA programming, especially
targeting adults, and higher crime and other factors that affect park use. There is a need for interventions that
address community concerns, target the built environment, and “activate” park use. Churches are credible,
stable entities that have significant reach within Latino communities and a history of social service provision
and advocacy related to health and well-being. Our research has found that church-based interventions can be
effective across a wide range of health issues and types of churches. We propose to combine approaches
from our team's extensive prior work with churches and parks to conduct a cluster randomized controlled trial
of a multi-level intervention that links Latino Catholic churches (n=12) with their local parks to increase PA
among Latino parishioners (n=1500) in Los Angeles. The specific aims are to: (1) Examine the impact of a
multi-level church-based intervention that links Catholic parishes to their local parks on Latino parishioners' PA
and health-related outcomes (effects on parishioners' MVPA and self-reported PA, heart rate/fitness, waist
circumference, waist to hip ratio, body fat, mental health, and perceived social support for PA); (2) Explore
differences in the effectiveness of the intervention by gender; and (3) Evaluate factors associated with
intervention implementation (facilitators, barriers, fidelity, and replication costs) for future dissemination. Our
approach targets multiple levels to promote health-enhancing PA through park-based fitness classes led by
kinesiology students, peer leader-led walking groups, park-based church events, and church-based PA support
activities. It integrates churches' vast social networks, moral authority, and influence with parks' structural and
organizational capacity and kinesiology student interns' professional expertise. The intervention makes use of
innovative partnerships within and across sectors – faith-based, local parks/city government, and local
universities. Our inter-sectoral, collaborative approach makes our intervention scalable and sustainable in real-
world settings and incorporates action at multiple levels (individuals, churches, and neighborhoods). To our
knowledge, this will be the first study to examine the effectiveness of an integrated church and park-based
intervention on Latinos' PA, and it will provide a sustainable model of PA programming in low-income
communities. If the intervention proves effective, the increased community capacity through this partnership
will lay the groundwork for scale-up across the largest diocese in the U.S. and, potentially, the nation.
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