September 7, 2013

Exercise and the Autism population (Idea Fitness Journal – 2013)

As a fitness company that provides exceptional Autism fitness programing, Fitness Propelled found this article to be a phenomenal resource for all.  The article highlights multiple points which we will address below, that provide the reader with insights on how we as Fitness professionals develop the best possible fitness options for young men and women on the Autism spectrum.

Stats: 1 in every 88 children is currently diagnosed somewhere on the Autism spectrum. (Autism Society -2013)

Challenges with Physical Fitness programs:

Many young adults on the Autism spectrum encounter gross motor difficulties such as low muscle tone/strength, poor stability, low endurance, compensatory movement patterning and poor gait (Staples & Reid – 2010)

How to best provide effective programing:

Fitness professionals must emphasize individualized and adapted exercise programs.

Strategies to accomplish this:

– Emphasize training strength and stability in pushing, pulling, squatting and rotation (Foundational movement skills).  Tie these emphasis points into daily life tasks such as, pulling open heavy doors, appropriately picking up toys, rotating and handing off an item from left to right.

Exercise you can put into action: Medicine ball push – throw w/ partner


1.  Push-throw with non weighted ball from 3-feet away.

2. Push-throw with non weighted ball from 5-feet away.

3. Push-throw with non weighted ball from 10 feet away.

4. Push-throw with 2 pound medicine ball from 3 feet way.

Address the mind as well as the body:

– Provide clear and concise directions.  Take multi-step directions and break them down into smaller multiple step sequences that will lead you to your desired end result.  

– Don’t negotiate, instead prove a clear and direct option a or option b.  Often you can reward clients for accomplished tasks, however, personally I side against it as it leads to a belief of need reward for accomplished actions. 


– Eric Chessen, MS, Autism Fitness, AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), Autism Society – 2013

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