Below are the slides of the Mindful Movement: Invigorating Break session at the annual conference of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, held on June 20-21, 2014, at the Richard B. Simches Research Center of the Massachusetts General Hospital. This presentation was focused on hands-on practice of MBX-12 (Mindfulness-based Stretching and Deep Breathing Exercises) on both days. After the slides are the summary of the randomized controlled trial in which the MBX-12 was used as the primary exercise protocol.
Context: Persons with chronic stress symptoms such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have abnormal cortisol levels (generally at lower levels than normal ranges). We hypothesized that endogenous normalization of cortisol concentration through exercise may reduce PTSD symptoms.
Objective: We aimed to determine whether mindfulness-based stretching and deep breathing exercise (MBX) normalizes cortisol levels and reduces PTSD symptom severity among persons with subclinical features of PTSD.
Design and Setting: We conducted a randomized controlled trial at the University of New Mexico Hospital.
Participants: Twenty-nine nurses aged 45–66 years participated in the study.
Intervention: We provided 60-minute MBX sessions semiweekly for 8 weeks.
Main Outcome Measures: We measured serum cortisol and other hormones and the PTSD Checklist–Civilian version (PCL-C) at baseline and weeks 4, 8, and 16.
Results: Twenty-nine participants completed the study procedures, 22 (79%) with PTSD symptoms (MBX, n=11; control, n=11), and 7 (21%) without PTSD (BASE group). Eight-week outcomes for the MBX group were superior to those for the control group (mean difference for PCL-C scores, 13.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 25.6, 1.6; P = .01; mean difference for serum cortisol, 5.8; 95% CI, 0.83, 10.8; P= .01). No significant differences were identified between groups in any other items. The changes in the MBX group were maintained at the 16-week follow-up (P= .85 for PCL-C; P= .21 for cortisol). Our data show that improved PTSD scores were associated with normalization of cortisol levels (P< .05).
Conclusions: The results suggest that participation in MBX practice is associated with reduction of the prevalence of PTSD-like symptoms in persons exhibiting subclinical features of PTSD.