International Journal of Exercise Science 15(7): 1075-1084, 2022. Introduction: Anxiety is the most prevalent mental illness worldwide. Physical activity and mindfulness both reduce anxiety. The two are highly related; however, the relative association of physical activity and mindfulness on anxiety has yet to be examined. The present study aimed to evaluate the unique variance accounted for by physical activity and mindfulness on anxiety. Methods: Fifty young adults from a student population (M ± SD = 19 ± 0.2 years old; 58% female) reported their physical activity, mindfulness, and anxiety symptoms at the start of the study and reported their change in state anxiety to an acute psychological stress test, Trier Social Stress Test. Results: Mindfulness explained more of the variance associated with anxiety symptoms at baseline, whereas physical activity explained more of the variance associated with change in state anxiety in response to the acute stressor. Females had higher rates of anxiety symptoms than males suggesting that females may benefit more from mindfulness. In contrast, both males and females reacted similarly to an acute stressor suggesting that both genders may benefit from physical activity. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that physical activity and trait mindfulness may have related, but distinct impacts on anxiety levels. These results have important implications for using these lifestyle interventions to support mental health and point to personalizing interventions to help ease the burden of anxiety felt by the individual.
Mizzi, Allison L.; Heisz, Jennifer J.; and Karelis, Antony D.
"Physical Activity and Mindfulness are Associated with Lower Anxiety in Different but Complementary Ways,"
International Journal of Exercise Science: Vol. 15
7, Pages 1075 - 1084.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol15/iss7/7