Background Recent evidence suggests that childhood obesity is increasing in children with typical development (TD) and in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The associations between physical activity (PA) levels and physical fitness components have not yet been objectively examined in this population but may have clinical implications for the development of secondary health complications. Objective The aims of this study were: (1) to compare PA and physical fitness between secondary school-aged male students with ASD and their peers with TD and (2) to assess possible interrelationships between PA and physical fitness levels in each group. Design This was a cross-sectional study. Methods Physical activity was recorded every 10 seconds by using accelerometry in 70 male students with (n=35) and without (n=35) ASD for up to 5 weekdays and 2 weekend days. The Brockport Physical Fitness Test was used to assess physical fitness. Results The primary findings were: (1) participants with ASD were less physically active overall and engaged in moderate-to-vigorous PA for a lower percentage of time compared with participants with TD during weekdays; (2) participants with ASD had significantly lower scores on all physical fitness measures, except body composition; and (3) group-dependent relationships existed between physical fitness profiles and PA levels. Limitations The study design limits causal inference from the results. Conclusion Specific interventions for maximizing PA and physical fitness levels in secondary school-aged male students with ASD are urgently needed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation