Five Benefits of Physical Activity For Children With Autism

As parents we look to ensure that our children maintain a healthy lifestyle that they both love and enjoy.  We all know that maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is beneficial for all men, women, and children but staying active has many benefits for children on the Autism Spectrum.

Benefits Of Exercise

Exercise has shown to provide benefits for children on the Autism Spectrum in many ways. Routine exercise not only provides physical benefits but also social and mental benefits.

1. Reduce Stereotypic Behaviors – Studies have shown that children that engage in vigorous exercise (20 minutes or more, 3 to 4 days a week) have shown a decrease in stereotypic (self-stimulatory) behaviors, hyperactivity, aggression, self-injury, and destructiveness. This is not something that happens over night but in due time you will start seeing improvements in your child.

2. Improving Social Skills – Children on the spectrum have a harder time engaging with their peers in a social setting. This could be due to anxiety, inability to read social cues, low self-esteem, decreased verbal communication, etc. When children engage in sports programs they build social relationships with teammates, work with others to accomplish goals, and build confidence. Sports participation also allows children to feel like they have a role in society and be part of a team, which they may not have felt before.


3. Establishing A Routine – As many professionals and parents of children on the spectrum know routines are incredibly important for children. Children with Autism tend to perform repeated self-stimulatory behaviors because it provides comfort that they are familiar with. By implementing physical activity slowly into a child’s life so that their transition into a new routine is important. Find an activity that your child enjoy’s like a long walk or a sport they may find fun and introduce it into your child’s routine.


4. Promote Weight Loss – Autism is related to a higher chance of early childhood obesity, which can lead to a greater chance that obesity can turn into more sever illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, bone and joint problems. Children with Autism tend to live more inactive lifestyles, which in turn makes it harder for them to maintain a healthier weight. By implementing an active lifestyle at a younger age, exercising becomes a part of your child’s routine to maintaining a healthier weight.

5. Improve Attention – Many children on the Autism spectrum have trouble staying attentive not only in the classroom but also at home. One reason for the decrease in attention among children on the spectrum is due to their stereotypic behaviors that become a distraction. By increasing their exercise it will help decrease their stereotypic behaviors and improve attention. In addition, having your child join a sport will also help them work together with others and improve listening to directions to accomplish the teams goals.


How To Get Your Child Active

At time it may be difficult to start your child in the routine to exercise but slowly introducing activities that they find enjoyable will help break them into exercising. In the beginning it would help to take them for long walks to get them used to being active in a comfortable environment. In addition, finding sports that they love and have interest in really helps set them into a routine.

Here at Be The Best Sport we provide a wide variety of adaptive sports programs that can help your child find their passion. For more information about our programs please click here.


Sources: Psychology TodayAutismAutism Speaks