(HealthDay News) – Mindfulness-based stretching and deep-breathing exercises may reduce the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-like symptoms in individuals with subclinical features of PTSD, according to research published online May 29 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Sang Hwan Kim, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, and colleagues randomly assigned 22 nurses with PTSD symptoms to a twice-weekly 60-minute mindfulness-based stretching and deep-breathing exercise session for eight weeks (MBX group) or a control group. The civilian version of the PTSD Checklist (PCL-C) and serum cortisol levels were assessed at baseline and at four, eight, and 16 weeks.

The researchers observed significant mean differences at eight weeks compared with baseline for decreases in PCL-C scores (13.6) and increases in serum cortisol levels (5.8) for the MBX group compared with the control group. No other significant differences were detected between the groups. The changes in PCL-C scores and serum cortisol levels in the MBX group were maintained at 16 weeks.

“In summary, in this study of human endocrine and exercise physiology, we have demonstrated that after participation in an eight-week mind-body exercise intervention, participants experienced normalization in basal serum cortisol concentration with concurrent reduction in PTSD symptom severity,” the authors write.

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