Physical activity in children and adolescents with autism assessed by triaxial accelerometry

Pediatr Obes. 2013 Apr;8(2):150-8. doi: 10.1111/j.2047-6310.2012.00101.x. Epub 2012 Oct 8.


Objective: This study aimed to examine physical activity (PA) patterns in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as well as to address PA determinant factors by employing triaxial accelerometry.

Methods: In a school-based cross-sectional study of 80 children and adolescents with ASD (mean = 9.6, standard deviation = 1.8), we investigated demographics, children's behavioural and clinical profile, and their PA data as objectively measured using an Actigraph GT3X on the right hip for seven consecutive days. All activity measures were expressed as counts per minute (c.p.m.).

Results: There was a substantial reduction in activity across the adolescent years in ASD. Girls were significantly less active than boys with ASD. Participants were remarkably less active in school compared to after-school, and there was a PA decline during weekdays compared to weekends, which was not significant. Household structure, sedentary pursuits, comorbidities and obesity were identified as other determinants of PA in children with ASD.

Conclusions: Given the limited objective assessment of PA in children with ASD, our findings stressed the need for improving PA programmes, particularly for girls and older children with ASD. This study also provided important information for counselling clinicians, families and school policy-makers about health issues in ASD.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry* / methods
  • Actigraphy
  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / complications
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Iran / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools
  • Sedentary Behavior