Why Exercise?

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The benefits of exercise go beyond the obvious health-related effects of physical activity for everyone. A growing number of research studies involving the autistic community, we can now confidently say that physical activity provides a wider range of benefits, including significant gains in social and communication skills in addition to other health benefits. However, for many people it can be challenging to successfully engage in exercise without the right support. That is where Exercise Connection comes in.

Exercise Connection provides inclusive exercise solutions designed with autistic individuals in mind. It offers a variety of exercise options, including a simple, easy-to-use app that your child can use anywhere and everywhere. We have designed the app to cater to the needs of each student. The program also provides a safe and supportive environment for students to exercise, which can be crucial for those with autism. Finally, the staff at Exercise Connection are experts in working with students with autism and are passionate about helping them reach their full potential. If you are looking for an exercise program that can benefit your autistic child, then look no further than Exercise Connection.

Why Is Exercise for Autism Important?

Exercise is an evidence-based practice and rated by parents as the number one autism treatment. 1 in 44 individuals is diagnosed with autism, and their family members will leave no stone unturned to help them. Unfortunately, a multitude of therapies exists that cannot yet be backed by science. Exercise has been proven to work in a big way.

Exercise for those with autism doesn’t just increase fitness levels. It is an important part of learning and play. Research shows that it is a gateway to increasing focus, reducing maladaptive behaviors, and improving social skills and language development.

"Our National Survey of Autism Treatment Effectiveness, based on over 700 autism families, found that exercise was the number 1 rated treatment overall, with a rating of 4.2/5, substantially higher than the 2nd highest rated treatment with a 3.8/5."

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that students with disabilities receive physical education. Unfortunately, many schools struggle to support the needs of these students. As a result, many autistic students are left wandering and wondering in PE. It doesn’t have to be this way. By becoming an Autism Exercise Specialist, you can open doors to expand your practice and improve your programs. Perhaps more importantly, you will have an opportunity to have a profound impact on your students’ or clients’ lives, as well as their families.

Enhancing Fitness, Focus, & Family

Research on exercise for those with autism is still in its early stages, but the results so far have been impressive. In one study, children with autism who exercised showed a decrease in repetitive behaviors and an increase in fitness levels. The value of exercise is not that stereotypic behaviors stop but that stress, dysregulation, or feelings of being overwhelmed decrease as a result of physical activity.

Exercise Connection is a unique exercise program that offers exercise opportunities for students with autism. With the help of our Exercise Buddy app and Visual Exercise System, your child can access the benefits of exercise, empowering them to reach their full potential. 

Help Your Students Through ACSM Exercise Certificate

Just because you don’t personally have a child on the autism spectrum doesn’t mean that you can’t make a difference in the life of an autistic individual. We offer an autism exercise certificate program that is available for teachers, therapists, and coaches. Through this program, you’ll learn to effectively teach children, youth, and adults with autism how to exercise in a way that makes sense for them. Details about this program include:

  • Supported in research
  • Created in partnership with the world’s most respected exercise science organization (ACSM)
  • Approved provider for ACE, NASM, AFFA, NSCA, CSEP, canfitpro

To learn more about our certificate program, please reach out to Exercise Connection today.


The Relationship of Motor Skills and Adaptive Behavior Skills in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Megan MacDonald — Oregon State University

Catherine Lord, Dale Ulrich — University of Michigan

Physical Activity and Physical Fitness of School-Aged Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Kiley Taylor, Megan MacDonald — Oregon State University

Kristi Menear — University of Alabama at Birmingham

Using Relationship-Focused Intervention to Enhance the Social—Emotional Functioning of Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Gerald Mahoney, Freda Perales — Case Western Reserve University

Bicycle Training for Youth with Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Megan MacDonald – Oregon State University

Phil Esposito, Janet Hauck, Irully Jeong, Joseph Hornyak, Angela Argento, Dale A. Ulrich — University of Michigan

The Physical Activity Patterns of Children with Autism

Megan MacDonald - Oregon State University

Phil Esposito, Dale A. Ulrich — University of Michigan

Motor Skills of Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Meghann Lloyd — University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Megan MacDonald, Catherine Lord — University of Michigan


Challenging Autism with Exercise

2016 ACSM Health & Fitness Journal

Exercise, Autism and New Possibilities

2016 PALAESTRA Research Journal

When "Obvious" Isn't So Obvious...

June 2015

Some Homework that Works...

April 2014

The Exercise Connection

February 2014

Focus on Capabilities


Use Your Imagination to Get Your Child Moving


The Education of Physical Education


Joseph's Story



A Comparison of App-Based Video-Modeling Interventions to Teach Physical Activity Skills to People with Autism in a Community Setting

Journal of Special Education Technology

Laura Bassette, Ph.D., BCBA-D, et al., 2020

The Use of Multicomponent Behavioral Intervention to Promote Physical Activity in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders across Inclusive Community Settings

Behavioral Analysis in Practice

Laura Bassette, Ph.D., BCBA-D, et al., 2018

Exercise Identified as an Evidence-Based Practice for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder


Melissa Bittner, et. al., 2018

Assistive Technology: What Physical Educators Need to Know

Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance

Michael K. Laughlin, et. al., 2018

Use of Technology to Facilitate Physical Activity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Pilot Study

Physiology & Behavior

Melissa Bittner, et. al., 2017

Learn More About Exercise for Autism at Exercise Connection

At Exercise Connection, we are committed to helping children and adults successfully participate in physical activity, movement, and play in a way that supports their individual needs. If you would like more information about exercise for autism, please contact us today. We would be happy to help you.