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The Mindful Warm-Up: Proof of Concept for a Brief Embedded Intervention

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Traditional mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are often effective, but they are also time- and resource-intensive. Shortening MBIs and embedding them in standard medical care pathways may be one way to improve their accessibility. The present study sought to extend the extant body of research on brief, embedded MBIs by examining the impact of embedding a brief MBI (1) in a new activity and (2) in a new clinical population, while (3) using a more comprehensive assessment of mindfulness-related phenomenology to investigate participant experiences.


We conducted a single-site, two-arm, parallel-group randomized clinical trial among cancer patients enrolled in a fitness program at an academic cancer hospital. Participants (n = 99) were randomized to either a 10-min mindful warm-up condition (n = 49) or a 10-min mind-wandering warm-up condition (n = 50). Mindfulness-related phenomenology (i.e., mindful state, self-transcendent state, allocentric frame of reference, sense of wholeness) and treatment satisfaction were assessed.


Relative to participants in the mind-wandering condition, participants in the mindful warm-up condition reported experiencing more mindfulness (F1,90=6.29, p = 0.01), self-transcendence (F1,90=4.23, p = 0.04), allocentric frames of reference (F1,90=4.31, p = 0.04), and feelings of wholeness (F1,90=5.11, p = 0.03). Additionally, increases in state mindfulness after warming up mediated the relationship between experimental condition and treatment satisfaction at the training session’s end (β = 0.08, p = 0.05).


This study suggests that brief mindfulness training can be seamlessly embedded into an exercise training session, effectively inducing a range of mindful phenomenology and potentially contributing to greater treatment satisfaction. Brief, embedded MBIs may allow us to simultaneously treat patients’ minds and bodies.


This study is was pre-registered.

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AWH was supported by grant number R21DA050792 from the National Institutes of Health during the preparation of this manuscript. ELG was supported by grant number R01DA042033 from the National Institutes of Health during the preparation of this manuscript. The funders had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

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Authors and Affiliations



AWH: designed and executed the study, performed the data analyses, and wrote the first draft of the paper. DW, RWZ, PAH: collaborated with the design and execution of the study and edited of the manuscript. ELG: collaborated with the design and edited the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Adam W. Hanley.

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Conflict of Interest

Eric Garland, PhD, LCSW is the Director of the Center on Mindfulness and Integrative Health Intervention Development. The Center provides Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE), mindfulness-based therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy in the context of research trials for no cost to research participants; however, Dr. Garland has received honoraria and payment for delivering seminars, lectures, and teaching engagements (related to training clinicians in MORE), including those sponsored by institutions of higher education, government agencies, academic teaching hospitals, and medical centers. Dr. Garland also receives royalties from the sale of books related to MORE. Dr. Garland has also been a consultant and is a licensor to BehaVR, LLC.

Ethics Statement

The University of Utah’s Institutional Review Board approved all study procedures: IRB_0008544.

Informed Consent

This study was performed in accordance with the ethical standards stipulated by the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki.

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Hanley, A.W., Walker, D., Zingg, R.W. et al. The Mindful Warm-Up: Proof of Concept for a Brief Embedded Intervention. Mindfulness 14, 1804–1812 (2023).

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