Exercise for the Quality of Life and Joy

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According to the fall research provided by New York Medical College, physical exercises improve social skills in children with autism. The 4-month exercise program showed that regular exercising can significantly improve social responsiveness and physical endurance.

It is well-known that children with autism have a high risk of developing obesity and diabetes, metabolic syndrome, decreased peer interaction, impairments in balance, etc. Regular exercising helps children with autism improve their physical health and develop communication skills.
However, the research showed positive results, there is still a lot of missing data as it is “a major challenge for the researchers to study the populations of children with autism in real-world settings like schools”, Dr. Susan Ronan said. She is a lead researcher, DPT, PCS, assistant professor of clinical physical therapy. Dr. Ronan noted that her researchers team was “thrilled to have conducted one of the largest studies of its kind, particularly since many of the students who participated are from historically underrepresented communities.”

Students from 3 schools have been enrolled into this 4-month school based running and walking program. As controls they also served students without autism from 2 schools. The researchers wanted to examine the impact of regular exercising on endurance, socialization, communication and quality of life. The 20-minute classes were carried out by physical educators during the fall term twice a week.

The measurement parameters were: Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GAR)–3, the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS-2), and the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, heart rate, 6-minute walking (6MW) test, and the Energy Expenditure Index. In total, 94 students took part in this research, age range 8-9 y.o.

The significant improvements were noticed in the 6MW distance between baseline and final assessments, distance walked increased from 416.0 m to 467.8 m (P < .001), ambulation velocity increased from 69.3 m/min to 78.0 m/min (P < .001), SRS t-scores during the study period (P = .01), as well as on the awareness (P = .005), cognition (P = .005), communication (P = .003), motivation (P < .001), and restrictive/repetitive behavior (P = .01) subscales. Dr Eric Hollander, MD, director, Autism and Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Program, and clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral Sciences, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, New York City, and Chair of the advisory committee of Icare4Autism commented on the program that "individuals who got more exercise had better endurance," although he pointed out that there were no significant changes in BMI or blood pressure, "so maybe they need a more intensive program over a longer period of time. Dr. Hollander added that "Ultimately, what you'd like to do is get an improvement in the overall BMI, because many patients with autism are overweight or in the obese range, and then that increases your risk for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. I do think that the general idea is good and that this type of work is important. And I do think that obesity in this particular population is commonplace and is a big challenge and that physical exercise is a good idea." The source is: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/872301#vp_1

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