Differential Experimental Effects of a Short Bout of Walking, Meditation, or Combination of Walking and Meditation on State Anxiety Among Young Adults

Am J Health Promot. 2018 May;32(4):949-958. doi: 10.1177/0890117117744913. Epub 2017 Dec 7.


Introduction: Single bouts of aerobic exercise and meditation have been shown to improve anxiety states. Yet to be evaluated in the literature, we sought to examine the effects of a single, short bout of aerobic exercise or meditation, as well as exercise and meditation combined on state anxiety among young adults.

Design: Randomized controlled trial.

Setting: University.

Subjects: Participants (N = 110, mean age = 21.4 years) were randomly assigned to walk, meditate, walk then meditate, meditate then walk, or to sit (inactive control).

Measures: All walking and meditation bouts were 10 minutes in duration. Participants' state anxiety was monitored before and after the intervention using the State Trait Anxiety Inventory questionnaire.

Results: Significant group × time interaction effects were observed ( P = .01). Post hoc paired t tests revealed that state anxiety significantly decreased from baseline to postintervention in the meditation ( P = .002), meditation then walk ( P = .002), and walk then meditation ( P = .03) groups but not the walk ( P = .75) or control ( P = .45) groups.

Conclusion: Meditation (vs a brisk walk) may be a preferred method of attenuating anxiety symptomology. Individuals desiring the health benefits associated with aerobic exercise may achieve additional anxiolytic benefits if they employ a brief meditation session before or after exercising.

Keywords: anxiety; combination; exercise psychology; meditation; physical activity; walking.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / prevention & control
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation / methods
  • Meditation / psychology*
  • Walking / psychology*
  • Young Adult