If you're stressed at work, a little yoga on your lunch break might just help.
A new study from the United Kingdom suggests yoga done at work can reduce stress levels and lower back pain.
The study involved 74 British government workers ages 25 to 64 who said they experienced stress and back pain that was somewhat bothersome. Participants were randomly assigned to practice either eight weeks of yoga, or no yoga.
People in the yoga group took part in a 50-minute yoga class once a week, either at lunchtime or after work. They could also practice yoga at home twice a week for 20 minutes using a DVD.
All participants completed questionnaires designed to assess back pain, stress levels and overall well-being.
At the beginning of the study, 10 people in the yoga group and eight in the control group said they had back pain. At the end of the study, just four participants in the yoga group reported back pain, compared to 13 in the control group.
In addition, participants in the yoga group had reported lower levels of stress and less sadness at the study's end, compared with those in the control group.
The findings agree with previous research showing that yoga can reduce stress levels and back pain.
The researchers, from the Bangor University in North Wales, noted that the majority of participants were women, so the findings may not apply to men. Also, the benefits in the yoga group may have been influenced by the placebo effect — the idea that a treatment is beneficial simply because patients believe it will work.
Future studies should examine whether yoga at work can reduce the number of sick days workers take, the researchers said.
"Integrating yoga into the workplace, at lunchtime or after work, may provide a time-effective, convenient and practical method for reducing the costly effects of stress and back pain," the researchers wrote in the Sept. 25 issue of the journal Occupational Medicine.