The findings of the study were published in the 'Journal of Occupational Health'.
The analysis included 15 randomised clinical trials with a total of 688 healthcare workers. The studies examined the effects of yoga, massage therapy, progressive muscle relaxation, and stretching on alleviating stress and improving physical and mental health. Overall, the physical relaxation methods reduced measures of occupational stress compared with no intervention. More detailed analyses indicated that only yoga and massage therapy were more effective than no intervention, with yoga being the best method.
Healthcare workers who engaged in yoga or yoga-like exercises responded more positively to questionnaires designed to assess stress, physical and emotional burnout than their colleagues who did not engage in these exercise programs. "Work-related stress has been linked with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and other serious causes of morbidity. Our results suggest that physical relaxation methods are helpful in reducing occupational stress," said lead author Michael Zhang, MD, of the Southern Nevada Health District.
"Yoga is particularly effective and can be delivered virtually, making it convenient for employers to offer distance options to promote worker health," Zhang added. Work-related stress has been linked with an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, depression and other serious health issues.
Employers should consider implementing these methods into workplace wellness programs to reduce stress levels and limit burnout among staff, the authors said.