Background: The first objective of this study was to compare the changes in physical self-concept, global self-esteem, depression and anxiety after participation in one of two 16-week psychomotor therapy programs for nonpsychotic psychiatric inpatients. The second objective was to study the relationship between changes in these variables. Methods: One hundred and ninety-nine inpatients were randomly assigned to either a personalized psychomotor fitness program, consisting of aerobic exercise and weight training, or a general program of psychomotor therapy, consisting of different forms of physical exercises and relaxation training. Physical self-con cept was evaluated using the Dutch version of the Physical Self-Perception Profile at baseline, after 8 weeks, and after completion of the 16-week interventions. At the same time points, additional variables of global self-esteem, depression and anxiety were assessed by means of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Inventory, the Beck Depression Inventory and the Trait Anxiety Inventory, respectively. Results: After 16 weeks, both groups showed significant improvements in all outcome measures (p values ranged from 0.01 to < 0.0001), with no between-group differences. In both groups, the improvement in physical self-concept was correlated with increased global self-esteem and decreased depression and anxiety levels (p < 0.01). Conclusions: The results suggest that both psychomotor therapy programs are equally effective in enhancing physical self-concept. The relationship between improvements in physical self-concept and enhancements in global self-esteem, depression and anxiety supports the potential role of the physical self-concept in the recovery process of depressed and anxious psychiatric inpatients.

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