Effects of Physical Exercise on the Stereotyped Behavior of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Effects of Physical Exercise on the Stereotyped Behavior of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Ferreira, J. P. Ghiarone, T. Junior, C. R. C. Furtado, G. E. Carvalho, H. M. Rodrigues, A. M. Toscano, C. V. A.
Background and Objectives: Recent studies have shown the existence of a positive relationship between physical exercise, symptomatic improvement, and reduction of damage caused by comorbidities associated with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) in children, adolescents, and adults. The aim of this systematic review with meta-analysis (SRM) was to estimate the effects of physical exercise (PE) on the stereotyped behaviors of children with a diagnosis of ASD in intervention studies. Materials and Methods: The design followed the PRISMA guidelines and the TREND statement to assess the quality of information in each study. Nine non-randomized intervention trial studies with low, moderate, and vigorous physical exercise, with a duration varying from 8 to 48 weeks and a frequency of 3 times a week, were included in the SRM. The dependent variable episodes of stereotypical behaviors was analyzed in all studies and assessed as the number of episodes demonstrated by the child in pre- versus post-exercise intervention conditions. Results: The eight studies included a total 129 children (115 males and 14 females) with an average age of 8.93 ± 1.69 years. Children with ASD showed a reduction of 1.1 in the number of occurrences of stereotypical behaviors after intervention with physical exercise. Conclusion: Evidence was found to support physical exercise as an effective tool in reducing the number of episodes of stereotypical behaviors in children diagnosed with ASD.

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