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Secondary Analyses of the Effect of Exercise or Mindfulness Meditation on the Incidence of Acute Respiratory Infections

Session: Poster Abstract Session: Clinical Respiratory Infections
Friday, October 10, 2014
Room: The Pennsylvania Convention Center: IDExpo Hall BC

Non-influenza acute respiratory infections (ARIs) are extremely costly. The Meditation or Exercise for Preventing Acute Respiratory Infection (MEPARI) trial tested exercise or mindfulness meditation to reduce ARIs, but initial analysis was limited. This secondary analysis further examines the effect of these interventions on ARI incidence. 


Results from the first cohort of the MEPARI trial have been published (1). Participants were randomized to 8 weeks of training in mindfulness meditation (n=51), 8 weeks of training in moderate exercise (n=51), or to serve as observational controls (n=52). Participants self-reported ARI incidence, duration and daily severity and supplied a nasal wash for biomarker assay and viral identification.

Conditional logistic regression was used to calculate ARI incidence for each group. In addition, eight 30-day study periods were analyzed individually to determine the period of greatest effect on ARI incidence for each intervention.


There were 93 total ARIs (26 in exercise, 27 in meditation, 40 in control). Crude risk of ARI was 0.624 (p=0.0654) among exercisers as compared to controls.  The risk of ARI was 0.636 (p=0.0842) for meditators as compared to controls. After adjusting for age, smoking status, education, and area temperature, the risk of ARI was 0.627 (p=0.0886) among exercisers and 0.580 (p=0.0489) among meditators, as compared to controls.

Individual analysis of 30-day study periods found the month immediately following intervention to have the greatest effect on ARI incidence for both exercise (p=0.0057) and mediation (p=0.0718). During this month, adjusted ARI risk was 0.102 (p=0.0101) among exercisers as compared to controls, and 0.150 (p=0.0248) among meditators as compared to controls. 


This analysis found 8-week periods of exercise or mindfulness meditation training may significantly reduce ARI risk. Data also suggest that the month following exercise or meditation training may have the greatest impact on ARI incidence. These results will inform collection and analysis of biomarker data to determine biological mechanisms of exercise or mindfulness meditation to prevent ARIs.

  1. Barrett B, et al. Meditation or exercise for preventing acute respiratory infection: a randomized controlled trial. Ann Fam Med. 2012 Jul-Aug;10(4):337-46. 
Rachel Sippy, MPH, Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI and Bruce Barrett, MD, PhD, Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI


R. Sippy, None

B. Barrett, None

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