Local church exercises during services

LOS ANGELES At the First AME Church in Los Angeles, the staff practices what they preach.

Reverend Hunter and his wife, Denise, want their congregation to make healthier choices so they lead by example. They exercise before all their meetings and even have a two minute workout in their worship services.

"We're asking everyone to eat better, incorporate better eating habits into your lifestyle," said Mrs. Hunter. "Increase the amount of exercise that you put into your life daily. Everyone should be exercising at least 30 minutes a day."

In the first randomized control trial of faith-based activity, UCLA researchers followed 62 African American women over 60 from three local churches.

In the study, researchers were able to persuade sedentary women to walk an additional three miles per week by combining exercise with Bible study.

"It's fun being around people you enjoy being around and doing fun things," said Mrs. Hunter. "I think in the church environment exercise can be fun."

After six months in the study, UCLA researchers say participants not only increased the amount of walking they did, they had lower systolic blood pressure readings.

Besides food for the soul, the church also offers free exercise videos and nutritional info on their website. And every Saturday the church hold's a Farmers Market and a fitness boot camp.

The pastor's wife says she's already seen positive changes in many of the members.

"I think when people understand that you can incorporate it into every phase of your life instead of one dedicated period of time it makes it a lot easier," said Mrs. Hunter. "It makes it a lot more feasible for most people."

The church launched its Let's Move L.A. campaign back in April and they've had a lot of interest. Researchers conclude that faith based activity is an effective and attractive way to increase exercise in women who normally wouldn't.

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