Comparing mindful and non-mindful exercises on alleviating anxiety symptoms: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Wendy Wing Yan So, Erin Yiqing Lu, Wai Ming Cheung, Hector Wing Hong Tsang (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In recent years, studies and reviews have reported the therapeutic benefits of both mindful and non-mindful exercises in reducing anxiety. However, there have not been any systematic reviews to compare their relative effectiveness for therapeutic application, especially among the non-clinical population. Thus, the aim of this review is to compare the effectiveness between mindful and non-mindful exercise on treating anxiety among non-clinical samples. Methods: Potential articles were retrieved from PubMed, Embase, Academic Search Premier, and PsycInfo. Randomized controlled trials, which involved both mindful and non-mindful exercises as intervention, and the use of anxiety outcome measures were included. Results: Twenty-four studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were included in our systematic review. In addition, 14 studies provided sufficient data to be included in the meta-analysis. For studies that reported significant group differences at post-assessment, results showed that mindful exercise was more beneficial in reducing anxiety than non-mindful exercise. The meta-analysis reported that yoga was more effective in reducing anxiety than non-mindful exercise. Conclusions: Compared to non-mindful exercise, yoga is shown to be more effective in alleviating anxiety symptoms. It is recommended that yoga could be used as a primary healthcare intervention to help the public reduce anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8692
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2020


  • Anxiety
  • Mindful exercise
  • Physical exercise
  • Primary health care
  • Qigong
  • Yoga

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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