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Mindful Movement May Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Stop and smell the roses.

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Encouraging clients to increase body awareness and pay attention to their surroundings when being physically active may reduce stress.

As a doctoral student at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Chih-Hsiang Yang, PhD, conducted an app-based study to investigate the combination of mindfulness and moving on feelings of stress and anxiety. “When people are both more mindful and more active than usual, they seem to have this extra decrease in negative affect,” Yang said. “Being more active in a given moment is already going to reduce negative affect, but [when people are also] more mindful than usual at the same time, you can see this amplified effect.”

The study, which included 160 Penn State students who recorded their moods, stress levels and current activities in the app Paco, was published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise (2018; doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2018.05.003).

Yang conducted a follow-up study to better assess causation with older adults participating in outdoor mindful walking. Findings showed reductions in depression and anxiety and improvements in mindfulness. This study appeared in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity 2018; doi:10.1123/japa.2017-0390).

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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