Cycle Your Stresses Away

This month, researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota published a study showing that a stress-management and cycling program implemented at the workplace can reduce stress levels and increase the overall physical and mental health of employees.

High stress levels have been linked to decreased productivity, absenteeism, and increased health care costs, which can all negatively impact the success of a company.  Not only does stress have detrimental effects for a company, but also it can negatively impact the health of individuals who suffer from it.  Previous research has shown that stress is associated with lower quality of life and increased fatigue, among other things.

What can you do about something as ubiquitous as stress?  There is evidence that stress management and exercise programs reduce depressive and anxiety symptoms and improve overall mood and health.  The prevalence of stress in the workplace has motivated companies to provide means of reducing stress levels, such as exercise facilities in office buildings.  However, while many companies offer stress management programs and workout facilities, there is not as much research on group cognitive-behavioral stress management programs.  Therefore, the researchers at the Mayo Clinic wanted to understand how a combined stress-management and exercise program implemented at the workplace could affect stress levels and quality of life of employees.

Indoor cycling sessions were an integral part of the stress management and exercise program used in this study.

The program that was implemented consisted of small group coaching, discussion-based sessions, and indoor cycling classes.  Before, during, and one month after the program the Perceived Stress Scale was used to measure each participant’s psychological, and physical symptoms as well as their use of health services.  During and after the program, individuals’ perceived stress scores decreased, their average health scores improved, and their current stress levels improved, as compared to the baseline measurements taken from each individual before the program was implemented.

The stress-management and exercise program was customized for men and women to target the different stress-related issues experienced by each gender.  The results showed that men benefited more from the program than women did with regard to their confidence to manage current stress, their perceived stress, and their perceived overall health.  However, women still significantly benefited from the program.  This study proves that combining exercise and stress-management sessions can help reduce stress and improve methods to manage stress in the future.  This low-cost method could be promising for improving mental and physical health in the workplace!

To view full article:

Clark, M. M., Soyring, J. E., Jenkins, S. M., Daniels, D. C., Berkland, B. E., Werneburg, B. L., Hagan, P.T., Lopez-Jimenez, F., Warren, B.A., & Olsen, K. D. (2013). The Integration of Studio Cycling into a Worksite Stress Management Programme. Stress and Health.

About Lydia Marks