Multiple quantum relaxation in proteins reveals unexpected relationships between correlated or anti-correlated conformational backbone dynamics in alpha-helices or beta-sheets. The contributions of conformational exchange to the relaxation rates of C'N coherences (i.e., double- and zero-quantum coherences involving backbone carbonyl C-13' and neighboring amide N-15 nuclei) depend on the kinetics of slow exchange processes, as well as on the populations of the conformations and chemical shift differences of C-13' and N-15 nuclei. The relaxation rates of C'N coherences, which reflect concerted fluctuations due to slow chemical shift modulations (CSMs), were determined by direct C-13 detection in diamagnetic and paramagnetic proteins. In well-folded proteins such as lanthanide-substituted calbindin (CaLnCb), copper,zinc superoxide dismutase (Cu,Zn SOD), and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP12), slow conformational exchange occurs along the entire backbone. Our observations demonstrate that relaxation rates of C'N coherences arising from slow backbone dynamics have positive signs (characteristic of correlated fluctuations) in beta-sheets and negative signs (characteristic of anti-correlated fluctuations) in alpha-helices. This extends the prospects of structure dynamics relationships to slow time scales that are relevant for protein function and enzymatic activity.