Interpreting the Data

Icon representing physical activity interventions.

Physical Activity Interventions

Physical Activity InterventionsTable 12 shows that physical activity interventions have small, non-significant effects on overall measures of mental health. This high-level result may lead employers to conclude that physical activity interventions are not effective and should not be offered in the workplace. However, the average number of minutes achieved across the studies in the meta-analysis by Conn and colleagues1 was 50 minutes per week, which is well below the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous minutes per week. Programs that consisted of onsite group exercise classes did show a positive effect on mental health outcomes. This is consistent with the evidence from the 2nd edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.2 Since most employers, especially small employers, may not have the resources to provide onsite gyms that offer regular exercise classes, employers can consider other physical activity strategies to get employees to move more and sit less.

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Digital Mental Health Interventions

Digital Mental Health InterventionsTable 12 shows that the effects for digital mental health interventions are small and only significant for stress. A closer look at the individual studies indicates that digital meditation apps have a moderate and significant effect on overall mental health and stress on the general population, and digital stress management interventions are associated with large, significant effects on symptoms of anxiety among at-risk employees. Since these results are from only 13 studies, more research on digital health interventions would benefit researchers, employers and policymakers.

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Stigma Reduction Interventions

Stigma Reduction Interventions – The studies included in this report did not measure the effect of stigma reduction training on employee mental health outcomes, instead they evaluated supervisor attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors related to mental health stigma. Furthermore, the studies have short-term follow-up, which limits the conclusions that we can draw about their effectiveness over time. These limited findings should not, however, dissuade employers from offering evidence-based stigma reduction interventions in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to offer these programs and evaluate their effectiveness. In fact, the emerging evidence documented in this report suggest that supervisors and managers would benefit from booster training every six months. More rigorous studies using validated measures of stigma and linking them to employee mental health outcomes over time will help to advance the science and practice of stigma reduction in the workplace.


  1. Conn V.S., Hafdahl A.R., Cooper P.S., Brown L.M., & Lusk S.L. (2009). Meta-analysis of workplace physical activity interventions. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2009.06.008. Retrieved from
  2. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2019). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: 2nd Edition. Retrieved from