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Autism and Exercise

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a very complex neurol-biological and developmental disorder typically diagnosed in early childhood and can last throughout a lifetime.

ASD affects how someone thinks, feels and interacts with other people and their environment. There are many different subtypes of ASD, and therefore each different person has a distinct set of challenges and strengths.


Autism is commonly associated with developmental, mental health and physical conditions - such as dyspraxia (difficulty in coordination and movement), anxiety and intellectual disability.


Exercise for Autism


There is enormous evidence suggesting many different benefits of exercise for people with ASD.

  • Behavioral Regulation - improvements in aggression, destructiveness, and self-injurious behavior.

  • Emotional Regulation - improved attention and concentration, focus and reduced depression/anxious emotions.

  • Improved Social Skills - improved ability to communicate and engage.

  • Improved Locomotive, Fine and Gross Motor Skills - correction of movement patterns, improvement in coordination and balance.

  • Improved Muscle Strength and Fitness - reduced risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Despite many people knowing the vast benefits of exercise, often the characteristics and presentations of ASD make it challenging to engage into mainstream sport, play and activities due to limited motor functioning, low motivation and difficulty self monitoring with increased stimuli.

However, if physical activity / exercise is implemented appropriately, it can help overcome many challenges and improve overall quality of life.


Working with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist firstly can conduct a thorough assessment to determine challenges, needs and goals, can then assist in planning an appropriate exercise program.


Regularity is Key


Recommendations for exercise with Austism Spectrum Disorder include progressing to:

  • 150-300 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 5 days per week of moderate to vigorous exercise.

  • 2 days per week of resistance based exercises (can include, jumping, climbing, throwing, free weights, weight machines, etc).

At Your Foot Doctor, we have an accredited Exercise Physiologist that is happy to discuss your goals and keep you moving. To book an appointment, phone (08) 8562 1700.


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