Fitness Program for Children with Autism
According to health experts, 32% of adolescents with autism are obese. In addition, adolescents with learning and behavioral disabilities are 50% more likely to be obese than adolescents without developmental disabilities, increasing the risk for other medical and mental health problems. But why is this so?
Based on numerous findings, adolescents with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders suffer from sensory issues and psychological challenges that limit their interests in traditional fitness programs, in turn giving way to sedentary lifestyles.
Being aware of these obstacles, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Wellness Center and the Division of Developmental Pediatrics have introduced an exercise and nutrition program, known as Piece It Together. The comprehensive wellness program lasts about 6-10 weeks and it aims to help adolescents and young adults with autism and other mild neurodevelopmental disorders (ages 17 to 24) by improving their social skills, increasing physical activity, promoting healthy habits, as well as improving fitness, flexibility, relaxation, and mood.
Since most on the autism spectrum have difficulty socializing, communicating, and controlling their emotions, the program is a great approach to reducing the impact of these issues.
Piece It Together focuses on overall health and well-being by promoting:
- Cardiovascular training and interval strength training
- Outdoor activities
- Motivational activities such as swimming, cycling, mindfulness, yoga, and more
- Relaxation and calming strategies
- Personal trainer or partner opportunities
- Nutritional guidance
- Food preparation instructions
- A supportive and positive environment for socializing and fostering relationships
The necessary criteria that must be met upon registration includes the following:
- Participants must be motivated to foster friendships
- Participants must be motivated to build healthy lifestyle habits
- Participants must be respectful to other individuals
- Participants must be able to sit through and listen to half-hour lessons
Read on to learn more about Piece It Together and how it can help people with autism maximize their fitness efforts!