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Employees encouraged to adopt mindfulness practices to improve wellbeing

A simple movement-based programme which encourages mindfulness while exercising has been shown to drastically increase workers’ mental wellbeing compared with exercising alone.

A new scientific study led by Professor Brendon Stubbs in partnership with sports brand Asics found workers who used an audio programme alongside a walk or run for 30 minutes twice a week for eight weeks saw huge improvements in their wellbeing.

Each week covers a different theme and introduces employees to breath work, mindful movement, sophrology, connecting to nature, music and mindful meditation, and was designed to combat the negative mental health impact of the pandemic on workers.

Over half (57%) UK office workers said they were more stressed than ever in September 2021, according to BF Media research.

Those working from home move 50% less than when in the office, with 39% admitting to working longer hours when remote working and 25% taking fewer breaks.

Workers taking part in Asics' Movement for Mind programme said they experienced lower levels of anxiety, increased their daily step count and reduced their sedentary time compared with a control group.  

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Their wellbeing was improved by three points on the internationally recognised Warwick-Edinburgh scale compared with the controlled group, who simply increased their exercise without the support of the audio programme.

Speaking at the MadWorld conference in London last week, Stubbs said: “Many organisations are looking at introducing interventions to improve wellbeing, but not looking at any kind of correlation to causation measurement.

“There are many workplace wellness solutions out there. While well-intentioned, there is very little scientific evidence to prove these solutions are effective, or even avoid doing harm. In research terms, we applied the ‘gold standard’ of a randomised control trial to have confidence that the results are robust and clinically meaningful.”

However Stubbs was keen to emphasise that programmes such as these are only part of the equation when it comes to mental health in the workplace.

“I do hope any company would have a range of measures as part of a package. This programme is part of a preventative approach for employers to help their people no matter what they are struggling with. It is not the only part of the puzzle.”

The Movement for Mind programme will now be freely available for anyone to download.