Improve behavior in kids with Autism with exercise

The Connection Between Physical Activity and Behavior

Mar 19, 2021

It’s hardly a news flash that exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle and good for your physical wellbeing. As adults, we know physical activity is important for maintaining a healthy weight, a healthy heart, and healthy bones and muscles. And we know the same is true for our kids!

The benefits of exercise reach beyond physical healthy, though. Physical activity can benefit mental health and behavior, too! Learn more below about the connection between exercise and behavior.

Does Physical Activity Benefit Children with Behavior Disorders?

Yes! Studies have shown improved attention and concentration in the time following periods of exercise in children both with and without ADHD. And studies have shown similar results in children with Autism. While there’s still more research to be done to better understand the correlation between the amount of time spent exercising and the exact behavioral benefits, indications that physical activity improve impulse control, off-task behavior, and aggression are clear.

In addition to improved behavior, exercise programs designed specifically for children with Autism, can also help improve both social and motor skills! There are so many benefits to finding ways to help your child be physically active!

Ways to Exercise with a Child with Autism

We know it’s important to be physically active, and we know it can improve behavior in children and adults with Autism and other developmental disabilities, but it can still be challenging to find the right ways to encourage and motivate exercise.

While some kids are thrilled to run full speed into the playground melee at the park, the noise and chaos might make it a less appealing form of physical activity for others. Finding activities that are fun and enjoyable is central to working exercise into your daily life – and reaping the behavioral benefits. If your child enjoys something like biking or running already, embrace it!

With the warming weather on its way, there are more opportunities to get outside! Walking the dog or going for a family hike are great ways to ease into an exercise routine, and both allow parents to join in and set an example. Like many behaviors, role modeling exercise will help your child learn to embrace it.

Many children are highly motivated by screen time and video games. If it’s a rainy day (or the great outdoors just isn’t your thing), consider looking into exercise videos or gaming consoles, such as the Nintendo Wii, that can be used for exercise. Find a variety of activities that work for your family and build skills while doing something that’s good for both mental and physical health.

At Innovative Behavior Options, we work with clients to change behavior through ABA therapy services. To learn more about our approach to ABA, give us a call at 770-250-0093.


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