Exercise Physiology and Autism Spectrum Disorder

What are the main symptoms of Aspergers?

Autism Spectrum Disorders are quite prevalent with an estimated 1 in 70 people who would appear on the ‘spectrum’. Every person who may have some aspect of autism is different and varies on a case-by-case scenario. Some common symptoms of autism can be:

  • Poor language skills
  • Poor movement skills/motor control
  • Poor learning skills, hyperactivity, unusual mood and emotional reactions.

There are however too many symptoms to list which can be seen as being part of the autism spectrum. One diagnosis within this spectrum is Asperger’s. The good thing is that exercise can assist those with Asperger’s or any other diagnosis which falls within the Autism Spectrum. If you’d like to find out some benefits, continue reading below!

How does exercise benefit those with Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Regular exercise can assist those with ASD and has been proven to improve motor and social deficits.

How does exercise benefit those with ASD? Well, just as anyone else would benefit from exercise, it can assist in the development of motor control and coordination of those with ASD who may be lacking. This can provide benefits in allowing them to participate greater in more complex activities of daily living or play social sports! This is important as most of those who are diagnosed with ASD can be relatively inactive and therefore face a lot of deconditioning or have never learned more complex motor control activities.

“Exercise can provide up to a 37% improvement in social behaviours of those diagnosed with ASD”

Regarding the social aspect, research has shown that exercise helps to reduce repetitive, serotyped and self-injurious behaviours and can elicit improvements in cognition.  In fact, it has shown exercise can provide up to a 37% improvement in social behaviours of those diagnosed with ASD.

What exercise is best?

A combination of both aerobic and strength training has been shown to be the best for those with ASD. However, there is no magic ‘exercise’. The exercise must be creative and enjoyable for the participant so adherence is kept, as well as goal-orientated to what the participant wishes to achieve. A recommended amount of exercise per day is 60 minutes 5-7 days per week, but this doesn’t need to be achieved quickly, instead see it more as a long-term goal.

If you or someone you know have ASD and are looking into exercising, consulting with an Exercise Physiologist will be your best bet at having a safe and tailored exercise program.

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