Embracing Autism Acceptance Month: The Power of Exercise for Individuals with Autism

Posted on: Apr 9th, 2024 by Belinda Brown | Categories: NDIS, Sports Medicine & Nutrition

Autism Shooting Basketball and Riding Bike

Embracing Autism Acceptance Month

Exercise has been proven to be beneficial in many ways for those living with autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Research has found that exercise interventions can lead to a 37% improvement in symptoms of ASD and significantly improve behavioural and academic performance.

More than 200,000 Aussies live with autism (2018) and more than half (50.9%) of those report that they have a mobility restriction and require some assistance or supervision to be able to move freely or exercise.

Luckily, there are qualified exercise professionals that can help with this! Exercise Physiologists are university qualified experts who have the experience and knowledge to prescribe the best exercise for conditions such as autism.

~Exercise Right

 Embracing Autism

We’re delving into the profound benefits of exercise for individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As we recognise and celebrate neurodiversity, it’s crucial to highlight the positive impact that physical activity can have on individuals with autism, both physically and mentally. Join us as we explore the transformative power of exercise in promoting well-being and enhancing the lives of those with ASD.

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder: Before we dive into the benefits of exercise, let’s briefly touch upon what Autism Spectrum Disorder is. ASD is a complex developmental condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests, and behavior. It’s important to note that autism manifests differently in each individual, hence the term “spectrum.” While some individuals may have challenges with sensory processing or communication, others may excel in certain areas, such as attention to detail or creative thinking.

The Role of Exercise in Autism: Exercise is not only beneficial for physical health but also plays a significant role in supporting individuals with ASD in various aspects of their lives. Here’s how:

  1. Sensory Regulation: Many individuals with autism experience sensory sensitivities or seeking behaviors. Engaging in physical activities like running, jumping, or swimming can provide sensory input, helping to regulate their sensory systems and promote calmness.

  2. Improving Motor Skills: Individuals with autism may face challenges with motor coordination and gross motor skills. Regular exercise, particularly activities that focus on balance, coordination, and spatial awareness, can help improve these skills and enhance overall physical abilities.

  3. Enhancing Social Skills: Group exercise settings provide opportunities for individuals with autism to interact with peers in a structured environment. Whether it’s participating in team sports, group fitness classes, or recreational activities, exercise fosters socialization, cooperation, and teamwork skills.

  4. Reducing Anxiety and Stress: Exercise has been shown to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that promote feelings of happiness and relaxation. For individuals with autism who may experience heightened levels of anxiety or stress, engaging in regular physical activity can serve as a natural stress-reliever and mood enhancer.

  5. Promoting Overall Well-being: Beyond the physical and social benefits, exercise contributes to overall well-being by improving sleep quality, boosting self-esteem, and fostering a sense of accomplishment and independence.

Practical Tips for Incorporating Exercise: Now that we understand the importance of exercise for individuals with autism, here are some practical tips for incorporating physical activity into their daily routines:

  • Choose activities based on individual preferences and interests. Whether it’s swimming, cycling, dancing, or yoga, find activities that resonate with the individual.
  • Establish a consistent exercise schedule to provide structure and predictability.
  • Break down activities into manageable steps and provide clear instructions or visual supports.
  • Consider utilising sensory-friendly environments or equipment to accommodate sensory sensitivities.
  • Encourage participation in inclusive programs or adaptive sports leagues tailored to individuals with disabilities.

As we celebrate Autism Acceptance Month, let’s recognise the value of embracing neurodiversity and supporting individuals with autism in living fulfilling lives. Exercise is not just about physical fitness; it’s a powerful tool for promoting well-being, enhancing social connections, and empowering individuals with ASD to thrive. By incorporating exercise into their routines and creating inclusive environments, we can foster a more inclusive society where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. Let’s continue to promote acceptance, understanding, and inclusion for individuals of all abilities.

Ready to begin your journey with TPM ~ www.thephysiomovement.com.au

Physiotherapy Townsville - The Physio Movement


     517 Flinders Street
Townsville City Qld 4810
     1300 TPM FIT or 4740 4516
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