Inspired living

Reduce stress with mindful movement

woman walking on trail in the woods


It may be difficult to commit to doing a vigorous exercise activity like running or going to the gym if you’re experiencing stress. But what if you could change the way you feel without changing your routine or engaging in a strenuous physical activity?

The answer is mindfulness, according to new research from the University of Southern California. According to the research, being mindful of your breathing and your surroundings while going about everyday activities such as taking a walk, sitting or standing, helps to boost your wellbeing throughout the day.

They also found that when the students were both more mindful and more active than usual, there was a significant decrease in negative states.

Mindfulness- and movement-based behaviours such as exercise are known to help reduce stress and anxiety and even alleviate depression. But it has been unclear if mindfulness during waking movement-based behaviours influences stress, anxiety, depression and other negative effects.

The researchers conducted a study that involved 158 Penn State University students. Many college students experience anxiety, sadness or mental exhaustion at some time. As students are often on the move throughout their day as they walk to class and go about other activities, the researchers wanted to see if there was a connection between mindfulness, movement and a reduction in negative states.

For two weeks, a special mobile phone app called Paco randomly prompted the participants to answer questions about their current activity and states of mind eight times a day. The prompts included questions about where the participant was, if they were moving, if they were stressed or anxious as well as questions designed to assess mindfulness.

The researchers found reduced negative states in the moments when participants were more mindful or active than usual. They also found that when the students were both more mindful and more active than usual, there was a significant decrease in negative states. Being physically active results in the reduction of negativity but the findings indicate that by being more mindful than usual at the same time as being active amplifies the reduced negative effect.

Most studies have focused on the differences between people who are more mindful versus people who are less mindful. But college students often moved in and out of mindful states during the day as they went about their activities. The researchers advocate that developing this ability to shift into these mindfulness states as needed may contribute to self-regulation and wellbeing.

Source: Psychology of Sport and Exercise


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!