A study by a group of Belgian investigators assessed the effects of aerobic exercise on various psychological dimensions, including well-being.

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.

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-concept 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.

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). 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.

Peer reviewed publication and references
Knapen, J. ; Van de Vliet, P. ; Van Coppenolle, H. ; David, A. ; Peuskens, J. ; Pieters, G. ; Knapen, K. Comparison of Changes in Physical Self-Concept, Global Self-Esteem, Depression and Anxiety following Two Different Psychomotor Therapy Programs in Nonpsychotic Psychiatric Inpatients. Psychother Psychosom 2005;74:353-361

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The International Federation for Psychotherapy (IFP) is an organization of national, regional, and school-oriented psychotherapy societies. Its goals are to facilitate and promote international communication among the various schools, professional groups and cultures within psychotherapy. The IFP organizes international congresses and conferences on psychotherapy. The IFP promotes the development of psychotherapy in practice, teaching and research and encourages and supports appropriate standards in the practice of psychotherapy. "Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics" is the official journal of the IFP. IFP, Culmannstrasse 8, CH-8091 Zurich

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