Poor mental and cardiovascular health are major problems that are alleviated by novel non-pharmacological modalities such as mindful exercise. The effects of two modalities, meditative and mindful walking, are inconclusive. PURPOSE: The primary purpose of the present study was to synthesize the primary literature on meditative and mindful walking to determine their effects on mental and cardiovascular health. The secondary purpose was to assess the quality of the relevant, published research studies. METHODS: A rigorous systematic review was conducted as per the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. The full protocol is registered in PROSPERO (CRD42021241180) and is under peer-review for publication. Peer-reviewed journal articles were identified online in Academic Search Premier, APA PsycInfo, Google Scholar, PubMed, and SPORTDiscus. The study reported in each article was assessed via the appropriate Cochrane risk of bias tool. The studies were clinically heterogeneous, so a meta-analysis was not conducted. RESULTS: Our systematic review is apparently the first synthesis of the meditative and mindful walking literature. The 14 articles in the systematic review were published in seven countries between 2013 and 2021. All the articles report studies of adults aged at least 18 years. Meditative and mindful walking were evaluated by six and eight studies, respectively. The study populations and intervention frequency, intensity, time, and type varied considerably. Four short-term and eight long-term studies reported significant improvements in mental health outcomes (e.g., affect, anxiety, and mindfulness). No short-term study reported effects on cardiovascular health outcomes, but four long-term studies reported significant improvements (e.g., aerobic capacity, blood pressure, cholesterol, and six-minute walk distance). In all but one of the studies, risk of bias was a moderate or serious concern. CONCLUSION: Meditative and mindful walking are two promising, novel non-pharmacological modalities of improving mental and cardiovascular health. Rigorous randomized controlled trials that have a low risk of bias will reveal the efficacy of meditative and mindful walking relative to conventional modalities such as traditional, non-mindful walking.
Davis, Dustin W.; Carrier, Bryson; Cruz, Kyle; Barrios, Brenna; and Navalta, James W. FACSM
"The Effects of Meditative and Mindful Walking on Mental and Cardiovascular Health,"
International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings: Vol. 14:
1, Article 8.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijesab/vol14/iss1/8