Featured News Mindfulness program gets a new workout

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Thu, 8 Jun 2023

Mindfulness program gets a new workout

Exercise physiologist Rhein Frank, 1 Million Strong gym owner and veteran Tyrone Gawthorne, JCU Associate Professor Wendy Li and veteran Michael Williams.
Exercise physiologist Rhein Frank, 1 Million Strong gym owner and veteran Tyrone Gawthorne, JCU Associate Professor Wendy Li and veteran Michael Williams.

A Townsville gym has joined forces with JCU researchers to improve the mental well-being of local veterans.

Demand has soared for JCU’s Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) study, the next phase of which will be hosted by 1 Million Strong gym at Mt Louisa.

The brainchild of JCU Associate Professor of Psychology Wendy Li and Dr Timothy Leow of Townsville University Hospital, the first eight-week study, held at The Oasis veterans’ centre earlier this year, had promising results with participants exposed to several different types of meditations aimed at increasing attention to feelings of well-being and reducing stress and worry.

“We saw the progress with veterans participating in the previous study. The feedback provided to us after each Saturday morning session was they felt more relaxed for the rest of the day,” Associate Prof Li said.

“As veterans, they were trained to react to stressful situations quickly but now they have to learn how to slow down their mind and body.

“During the meditation process, they were able to learn about the complicated relationship between the body and the mind and how to cope with that.”

The treatment will apply to veterans experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety and everyday stressful emotions, such as anger or frustration.

Participants will attend eight weekly MBSR sessions inside a private room at 1 Million Strong, in addition to undertaking guided audio meditations at home for up to 30 minutes, six days a week.

Mindful meditations will include eating meditations, body scan, attention-focused meditations, sitting meditations, walking meditations, yoga meditations and group discussions unpacking stressful events from the week aimed at mindfully responding, instead of automatically reacting, to stress.

Participants will also complete a questionnaire four times over the course of the study and a follow up session two months after the study ends.

“A study like this gives veterans more tools to improve their mental health,” Associate Prof Li said.

“1 Million Strong will provide an excellent venue for us to run the next phase of this study in an accessible, community setting.”

1 Million Strong head trainer and No Boundaries Health & Osteopathy head exercise physiologist Rhein Frank, whose partner first alerted him to the possibility of hosting the MBSR study, said two dozen gym-going veterans had already expressed strong interest in participating.

“There’s a need here for mental health awareness and we’re trying to become the leading service for veterans transitioning out of the military in Townsville,” Mr Frank said.

“To be able to offer a service like this is massive for the veteran community.”

1 Million Strong gym owner and veteran Tyrone Gawthorne praised the benefits of the study.

“Day to day, you hear so many struggles from different veterans in the Townsville community, so for us to have another rehabilitation program for veterans in Townsville is very important to us at 1 Million Strong,” he said.

“Everything we do is aimed at helping people and veterans are a massive focus.

“To have a program like Wendy is offering that connects the body to the mind will have a hugely positive effect for veterans struggling with PTSD, anger, depression and more.

“We look forward to continuing to work with JCU and expanding our focus on physical and mental health.”

The study will begin at 1 Million Strong gym on June 14.

For more information about the study, contact 1 Million Strong on 4426 7380 or visit www.tinyurl.com/mbsrjcu


Media enquiries: michael.serenc@jcu.edu.au