You, too, can reduce stress just by being 'mindful'

  • Fitness
  • Saturday, 11 Oct 2014

Mindful-Gym is a five-week, group-based programme with weekly three-hour sessions and daily simple self-help exercises for stress reduction.

Mindful-Gym is a mindfulness-based stress management programme specially designed for stress reduction and wellness.

Developed by consultant psychiatrist Dr Phang Cheng Kar, it is a five-week, group-based programme with weekly three-hour sessions and daily simple self-help exercises.

The sessions are conducted using an experiential approach to ensure maximum learning and benefits.

“Mindfulness” is a concept that originates from various spiritual traditions.

Over the past few decades, it has gained popularity in neuroscience research, medicine and psychotherapy.

Despite its spiritual origin, principles of mindfulness can be adopted in a secular approach for stress reduction, health and wellness.

Mindfulness-based interventions are even used for treatment of mental disorders, e.g. anxiety and depressive disorders.

Mindful-Gym sessions have been introduced in Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), Taylor’s University, Help University, Hospital Serdang, Kasih Hospice Care Society and a few other institutions.

The program has also received a grant support from the Malaysian Health Promotion Board (MySihat). This enables Mindful-Gym to be conducted free to benefit the public.

To date, more than a hundred participants have benefited and graduated from the five-week programme.

Mindfulness training offers the following benefits:

1. Better sleep and ability to cope with stress.

2. Greater concentration and ability to pay attention.

3. Enhanced mood, positive emotions and happiness.

4. Strengthened emotional resilience.

5. Relief from stress-related bodily symptoms, eg headache, gastric pain.

6. Improved problem-solving skills and creativity.

7. Increased productivity.

Research in collaboration with UPM, the National University of Singapore and the University of Queensland has supported the effectiveness of the Mindful-Gym programme for stress reduction.

Some of the research outcomes were presented at the International Mindfulness Conference, Rome (May 8-12, 2013), and International Congress of Cognitive Therapy, Hong Kong (June 27, 2014).

“I have had a really wonderful time in the Mindful-Gym programme. The exercises introduced are simple and can be carried out just about anywhere and at any time. These exercises help me refocus my attention when I’m having a stressful day at work. I’ve also learned to change my perspectives and view things/situations in a more positive light,” said administrative executive Chin Xiu Li of the programme.

“It has been a few years since I last felt really positive; glad that I regained it after attended the Mindful-Gym course recently. The psychological tools taught in the course are relatively easy to apply in our daily life. It is very helpful for coping with stress at work. I would strongly recommend my family and friends to attend this course. I’m grateful that I had the chance to attend this course, as it definitely has a positive impact in my life,” remarked accountant Jenny Tee.

“I decided to join the Mindful Gym workshop to help me cope with the stress of private medical practice and to improve my sleep. The workshop was conducted well and in a friendly manner by Dr Phang and his team. A lot of material was covered, but I found the progressive muscle relaxation, mindful breathing and gratitude exercises most useful for my daily life. The trainers encouraged the participants to adapt and modify the techniques for personal daily use. I have recommended the workshop to my colleagues and patients, and would recommend it unreservedly,” said another participant, oncologist Dr Muhammad Azrif Ahmad Annuar.

> For more information, log on to or email Dr Phang Cheng Kar at

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