Stressed at work? Try yoga

A bit of daily yoga and meditation, combined with six weekly group sessions, can lower stress and improve sleep quality for sedentary office-goers, says a pilot study.

Because chronic stress is associated with chronic disease, I am focussing on how to reduce stress before it has a chance to contribute to disease, said Maryanna Klatt, professor at Ohio State University (OSU), who led the study.

The study offered participants a modified version of what is known as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a programme established in 1979 to help patients assist themselves in their own healing.
Mindfulness refers in part to one’s heightened awareness of the factors that cause stress.

While the traditional MBSR programme practice takes up an hour per day for eight weeks supplemented by lengthy weekly sessions and a full-day retreat, the modified version was developed by OSU for office workers.

Participants attended one-hour weekly group meetings during lunch and practised 20 minutes of meditation and yoga daily at their desks.

After six weeks, participants reported greater awareness of stress factors, felt less stressed by events, and fell asleep more easily than did a control group that did not experience the intervention.

The pilot study was based on 48 office workers, who exercised less than 30 minutes on most days of the week. Forty two people completed the study.

The results were published in a recent issue of Health Education & Behavior.

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