Physical Education

Exercise and Autism: The Wide-ranging Benefits

Social Skills

Physical activity improves social skills. When designed appropriately, physical activity programs can provide a fun and safe environment for interacting with other children. In other words, they can offer excellent opportunities for practicing social skills. In addition, providing children with a fun way to interact nonverbally as well as verbally.


It’s very encouraging that children on the spectrum significantly improved their muscular strength and endurance by participating in programs such as physical exercise, aquatic exercise, and horseback riding. But also takes advantage of social opportunities that involve physical activity

including recreational sports and non-structured games.

Skill-related Fitness

Many individuals with autism have lower fitness skills compared to other people. These skills include balance, body coordination, visual-motor control, and other mobility skills. Here again, we were encouraged to find that many types of physical activities improve skill-related fitness for children with autism. These activities included running, climbing, crawling, jumping on a trampoline (with supervision and safety barriers), motor skill training (e.g. table tennis) and horseback riding.

Motor Skills

Many kinds of physical activities – and the social opportunities they afford – require what we call “fundamental motor skills.” These basic skills include running, throwing, catching and so on. Again, our analysis showed that exercise programs significantly improved these skills among children with autism.