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Effects of physical exercise on Autism Spectrum Disorders: A meta-analysis

Key Message

Physical exercise improves the motor skills and social skills of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Source

Sowa, Michelle, Meulenbroek, Ruud. (21011). Effects of physical exercise on Autism Spectrum Disorders: A meta-analysis. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 6 (1): 46-57.

Purpose

It is generally agreed that regular physical exercise promotes physical and mental health, but what are the benefits in people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)? This meta-analysis evaluates 16 behavioural studies reporting on a total of 133 children and adults with various variants of the syndrome who were offered structured physical activities either in an individual or a group context. The effects on social and motor deficiencies, two of the three primary symptom clusters of ASD, were normalized to afford a quantitative evaluation.

Evidence

Results pertaining to communication deficits were insufficient to permit classification. All activity programmes yielded significant progress on the measures assessed, but the individual programmes elicited significantly more improvement than the group interventions in the motor and, more surprisingly, also in the social domain. Although overall sample sizes were small, the combined results do permit the tentative conclusion that in terms of motor performance and social skills children and adults with ASD benefit most from individual exercise interventions.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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