Research Study Abstract

Physical Activity and Physical Fitness in Adolescents With and Without Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Presented on May 29, 2014

Background: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication skills and restrictive interests. ASD may also include delayed or impaired motor development. These social, behavioral, and perhaps motor impairments may interfere with a variety of physical activity (PA) opportunities, and therefore, put them into risk for not achieving sufficient PA and maintaining health-related physical fitness.

Purpose: To assess physical fitness components and objectively measured PA levels in adolescents with and without ASD.

Methods: Thirty adolescent males with ASD and 35 typically developing (TD) adolescent males agreed to participate. The BROCKPORT Physical Fitness Test and the Actigraph uniaxial accelerometry were used. All participants wore the device during waking hours, except bathing or water activities for seven consecutive days. A 10-second epoch was utilized to record PA. The PA dependent variables used for analysis were daily average total PA, percentage of time spent in moderate PA (%MPA) and vigorous PA (%VPA). Differences between groups in the physical fitness components were tested with independent t tests. Various intensities of PA were analyzed using 2 (group) by 2 (day of week) mixed-model ANOVAs.

Results: Main findings indicated that (1) adolescents with ASD demonstrated significantly poor scores on 20-meter Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (17.77±13.23 vs. 42.09±15.63, t=-6.71, p<0.01), isometric push-up (31.03±14.74 vs. 40.00±0.00, t=-3.60, p<0.01), and flexibility (right leg: 21.70±11.66 vs. 29.99±8.70, t=-3.27, p<0.01; left leg: 21.17±11.11 vs. 29.69±8.69, t=-3.47, p<0.01), (2) adolescents with ASD had significantly lower PA (%MPA: 5.75±3.51 vs. 8.35±3.79%, F=8.11, p<0.01; total PA: 338.32±133.10 vs. 445.91±193.69, F=6.58, p<0.05) as compared to TD adolescents during weekdays, and (3) TD adolescents had significantly higher PA during weekdays than during weekends (%MPA: 8.35±3.79% vs. 5.68±2.82%, F=19.16, p<0.01; total PA: 445.91±193.69 vs. 290.12±105.88, F=24.90, p<0.01).

Conclusion: Low PA of adolescents with ASD on weekdays require specific interventions.

Supported by Taiwan NSC grant 101-2410-H-017-027-MY2.


  • Yu-Jen Liu 1
  • Chien-Yu Pan 1
  • Chia-Liang Tsai 2
  • Chia-Hua Chu 1
  • I Chiao Chung 3


  • 1

    Naitonal Kaohsiung Normal University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

  • 2

    National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan

  • 3

    Tainan Municipal Madou Junior High School, Tainan, Taiwan.

Presented at

ACSM 2014 Annual Meeting


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