African Methodist churches using $12.6 million grant for exercise programs

Posted: Friday, December 13, 2002

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Members of African Methodist Episcopal Church congregations in South Carolina will benefit from a three-year, $12.6 million grant for exercise programs through an unusual project.

The Medical University of South Carolina and University of South Carolina's school of public health will use the grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote physical activity in the state's 609 churches.

The program includes ''praise aerobics'' to the accompaniment of Gospel music tapes, walking clubs, an eight-week course on fitness and seated exercises for older churchgoers.

One person from each participating church will be trained to run local programs and pastors are asked to bring health into weekly sermons.

A medical university administrator said 55 percent of black women and 44 percent of black men report little or no physical activity, and about 66 percent of blacks are considered overweight by national standards.

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