Is your expanding waistline due to desk job giving you nightmares? Well, then try workplace meditation and yoga, suggests a pilot study.
According to the study, twenty minutes per day of guided workplace meditation and yoga combined with six weekly group sessions can lower feelings of stress by more than 10 percent and improve sleep quality in sedentary office employees.
The study offered participants a modified version of what is known as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a program established in 1979 to help hospital patients in Massachusetts assist in their own healing that is now in wide use around the world.
In this context, mindfulness refers in part to one's heightened awareness of an external stressor as the first step toward relaxing in a way that can minimize the effects of that stress on the body.
While the traditional MBSR program practice takes up an hour per day for eight weeks supplemented by lengthy weekly sessions and a full-day retreat, the modified version developed at Ohio State University for this study was designed for office-based workers wearing professional attire.
The results of the pilot study are published in a recent issue of the journal Health Education and Behavior.
In the study, participants attended one-hour weekly group meetings during lunch and practiced 20 minutes of meditation and yoga per day at their desks. After six weeks, program participants reported that they were more aware of external stressors, they felt less stressed by life events, and they fell asleep more easily than did a control group that did not experience the intervention.
"Because chronic stress is associated with chronic disease, I am focusing on how to reduce stress before it has a chance to contribute to disease," said Maryanna Klatt, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of clinical allied medicine at Ohio State.
"My interest is to see whether or not we can get people to reduce their health care utilization because they're less stressed. I want to deliver something low cost at the work site, something practical that can be sustained, that can help reduce health care costs," Klatt said.
Klatt and colleagues are building on these preliminary findings and continuing to study the broader impact of the intervention in various populations, such as cancer survivors, intensive-care nurses and inner-city schoolchildren.