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Aetna explores 'mind-body' stress management techniques Posted: January 31st, 2011

By Maryalene LaPonsie

A study conducted by health insurance company Aetna demonstrates a correlation between 'mind-body' activities such as meditation and a reduction in stress. In addition, the study indicates that those with higher levels of stress tend to have higher health care costs.

The pilot program used Aetna employees who volunteered to be part of the study. The participants were split into three groups: one attended mindfulness-meditation classes, one attended therapeutic yoga classes and one acted as the control group.

After the 12-week study period ended, those who participated in the meditation and yoga classes reported significantly less stress than individuals in the control group, according to an Aetna news release. In addition, the study demonstrated a positive correlation between reduced stress and reduced health-care costs. Annual medical costs for those reporting the highest level of stress were $2,000 more than those reporting the lowest level of stress.

"Helping people take control of their health is a critical step in achieving better health and reducing the cost of health care," said Aetna CEO and President Mark Bertolini in a statement.

Aetna partnered with Duke Integrative Medicine, eMindful Inc. and the American Viniyoga Institute to conduct the study. The company is planning to extend the program to additional employees in 2011.