Exercise for Autism Spectrum Disorder 

There is research evidence to support the benefits of regular exercise for children, adolescents and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Regular exercise has been shown to not only reduce the negative health implications associated with inactivity, but may also assist with the management of a number of Autism Spectrum Disorder related symptoms.  These include:

  • Better emotional regulation

  • Improvements in behaviour (e.g reductions in stereotypical and repetitive behaviours)

  • Increased social behaviour

  • Improved classroom performance, attention and compliance


There is also research evidence to support that balance, postural endurance, walking gait and coordination and movement speed as being more challenging for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. These challenges can be exacerbated by reduced physical activity participation but can be improved with increased physical activity. Evidence has found exercise supports these improvements, and improvements in these areas have been found to improve:

  • Overall physical endurance (e.g strength and aerobic fitness)

  • Motor planning

  • Increased independence and physical function for daily tasks

  • Increased self-confidence and self-esteem

  • Increased likelihood of continuing a lifetime of physical activity

Despite evidence supporting the importance of exercise for ASD, youth and young adults with ASD do less physical activity than their peers - Given that 80% of Aussie youth don’t get enough exercise, this is a concern. Reduced physical activity and increased sedentary behaviour (sitting) from a young age only increases the risk of later developing a range of chronic health conditions as they get older. 


Information flyer for Exercise and Autism, with tips and tricks
Factsheet with current evidence base for Exercise and Autism
Exercise physiology and the NDIS 

Check out the video below to see how Exercise Physiology is helping youth with ASD through their NDIS funding