A 16-week aerobic exercise and mindfulness-based intervention on chronic psychosocial stress: a pilot and feasibility study

Guy A. Prochilo, Ricardo J.S. Costa, Craig Hassed, Richard Chambers, Pascal Molenberghs

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Objectives: Researchers have begun delivering mindfulness and aerobic exercise training concurrently on the premise that a combination intervention will yield salutary outcomes over and above each intervention alone. An estimate of the effect of combination training on chronic psychosocial stress in a nonclinical population has not been established. The objective of this study was to establish protocol feasibility in preparation of a definitive RCT targeting healthy individuals, and to explore the preliminary effect of combination training on reducing chronic psychosocial stress in this population. Methods: Twenty-four participants were allocated to a single-arm pre-post study and subjected to 16 weeks of concurrent mindfulness psychoeducation and aerobic exercise training. Feasibility criteria were collected and evaluated. Within-group changes in chronic psychosocial stress, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and cardiorespiratory fitness were also assessed. Primary analyses were based on 17 participants. Results: Retention rate, response rate, recruitment rate, and sample size analyses indicate a definitive trial is feasible for detecting most effects with precision. There was also a decline in our primary dependent measure of chronic psychosocial stress (dpretest = −0.56, 95% CI [−1.14,−0.06]). With regard to secondary measures, there was an increase in the use of cognitive reappraisal, and a reduction in use of maladaptive emotion regulation strategies. We are insufficiently confident to comment on changes in mindfulness and aerobic capacity (V̇ O2max). However, there were subgroup improvements in aerobic economy at submaximal exercise intensities. Conclusions: We recommend a definitive trial is feasible and should proceed. Trial registration: ANZCTR (ID: ACTRN12619001726145). Retrospectively registered December 9, 2019.

Original languageEnglish
Article number64
Number of pages17
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Aerobic exercise
  • Mental and physical training
  • Mindfulness
  • Nonclinical sample
  • Pilot and feasibility study

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