The influence of vigorous versus mild exercise on autistic stereotyped behaviors

J Autism Dev Disord. 1984 Mar;14(1):57-67. doi: 10.1007/BF02408555.


A major problem encountered in many autistic children is their high rate of stereotypic behavior, which has been shown to interfere with on-task responding and other appropriate behaviors. Since the experimental literature indicates that physical exercise can positively influence both appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, including the children's stereotypic behaviors, the purpose of this study was to investigate whether the specific type of exercise (i.e., mild vs. vigorous) would differentially affect subsequent stereotyped behaviors. The results demonstrated that (1) 15 minutes of mild exercise (ball playing) had little or no influence on the children's subsequent stereotyped responding, and (2) 15 minutes of continuous and vigorous exercise (jogging) was always followed by reductions in stereotyped behaviors. These results are discussed in relation to cognitive, physiological, and educational implications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / psychology
  • Autistic Disorder / therapy*
  • Child
  • Exercise Therapy* / methods
  • Humans
  • Jogging
  • Stereotyped Behavior / therapy*