Which Program Reduced Worksite Stress More – Meditation or Yoga?

Researchers from Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, NC, conducted a randomized controlled pilot comparing the viability of two mind-body workplace stress reduction programs - one therapeutic yoga-based and the other mindfulness-based - in order to set the stage for larger cost-effectiveness trials.  Additionally, 2 delivery venues of the mindfulness-based program were evaluated (online vs. in-person).
 
Group differences were examined over time on perceived stress and secondary measures to clarify which variables to include in future studies: sleep quality, mood, pain levels, work productivity, mindfulness, blood pressure, breathing rate, and heart rate variability.

Two hundred and thirty-nine employee volunteers were randomized into a therapeutic yoga worksite stress reduction program, 1 of 2 mindfulness-based programs, or a control group that participated only in assessment.

Compared with the control group, the two kinds of mind-body interventions showed significantly greater improvements on perceived stress, sleep quality, and the heart rhythm coherence ratio of heart rate variability. 

The two delivery venues for the mindfulness program produced basically equivalent results.  That’s encouraging news for people who prefer to use apps and digital resources over showing up for a live group session – because both ways work.

Investigators conclude that both the mindfulness-based and the therapeutic yoga programs may provide viable and effective interventions to target high stress levels, sleep quality, and autonomic balance in employees.

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Citation:  Wolever RQ, Bobinet KJ, McCabe K, Mackenzie ER, Fekete E, Kusnick CA, Baime M. Effective and viable mind-body stress reduction in the workplace: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. 2012 Apr;17(2):246-58. Epub 2012 Feb 20. ruth.wolever@duke.edu