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.
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.