Preliminary investigations of cross-sectional samples have linked trait mindfulness with measures related to the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA)-mediated stress response and to the inflammatory system, suggesting that this is one potential pathway linking mindfulness based interventions and health. However, no previous studies explored the association between the trait mindfulness construct and markers of cellular ageing.
In the current study we examined in a sample of healthy mothers (n = 92) of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (i.e. women showing high levels of chronic psychological stress) the prospective associations between a multidimensional scale of trait mindfulness, the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), and telomerase activity (TA), a marker of cellular ageing and telomere homeostasis. Participants’ trait mindfulness and TA were assessed at baseline as well as 9 and 18 month follow-up.
Analysis showed that higher levels of baseline mindfulness on FFMQ observation and describe subscales were related to increase in TA from baseline to 9 month (r = 0.27, P = 0.03 and r = 0.24, P = .04, respectively). Additionally, the FFMQ Describe subscale was related to increase in TA from baseline to 18 month (r = .30, P = .02). Results are reported following covariate adjustment of age, BMI, ethnicity, and education.
Our results showed that higher levels of baseline mindfulness are associated with higher increases in TA after 9 months and 18 months, with increased TA reportedly being associated with decreased oxidative damage, increased telomere length and overall more functional cellular physiology. These findings support a role of mindfulness-related interventions to increase general and mental health.
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
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