According to researchers, being mindful while engaging in physical activity amplifies the anti-anxiety and anti-stress effects that we know that exercise has. The researchers discovered that although study participants reported being less stressed when they were moving around, the benefits were boosted when they reported also being more mindful.
The results present a simple method for boosting mental well-being during the day by being more mindful of breathing and surroundings when taking a walk or engaging in any other physical activity.
It can be difficult sometimes to find the time to engage in moderate or vigorous activity such as running or going to the gym. But the beneficial mental well-being effects can still be had by trying to change your state of mind by becoming more mindful when engaging in any intensity activity. No extra effort needs to be exerted in order to improve your well-being by being more mindful while moving around.
This method could be beneficial for individuals looking for a way to manage stress and anxiety and who are not able to engage in strenuous exercise or those who don’t enjoy exercise and would prefer a less intense form of physical activity
158 students were enrolled in the 2-week study. The participants were randomly prompted 8 times/day to answer questions about their states of mind and current activity by Paco, a mobile phone app. The question prompts included: if they were moving, where they were, and if anxious or stressed, and also questions designed for the assessment of mindfulness.
Sadness, anxiety, or mental exhaustion is experienced at least once/year by more than 50% of college students, which suggests a need for a simple method for reducing these negative states. As students often move around during the day when walking to class and going about other activities, the researchers set out to determine if there was a connection between being mindful, movement and reduced mental negative states.
After the data was analyzed, it was found that the students showed a reduced negative effect at the times when they were more active or mindful than usual. A possible synergistic effect was also found when they were both active and mindful. Being more active in a given moment can already help reduce negative mental states associated with stress and anxiety, but by being more mindful as well at the same time, the benefits are amplified.
In a second study, it was found that the mindful walking was associated with lower levels of negative mental states in older adults.