Hi, I'm a Pilates teacher and i have a young daughter with Autism. Has anyone had any experience with exercise helping with emotions, concentration or anxiety? And does anyone know if there is any training out there for exercise and autism?

Many thanks 


  • I've always done a lot of what you might call strenuous exercise.  For many years, from my early 20s up until my mid-50s, long-distance running was my passion.  I could never jog!  It always had to be full-on, sending my heart rate up close to 200 bpm.  I did a lot of distance racing - 10k, half-marathon, etc.  Also, for the last 30 years, I've been an active cyclist.  Again, always full-on.  I don't run now, but I cycle to work and back many days from late spring through to early winter (before the clocks go back).  That's a 20-mile round trip.  I can usually manage each 10-mile leg in around 35 minutes.  Finally, during the summer, I do a lot of sea-swimming.  I live close to the sea, which helps!  I can't use swimming pools, unfortunately.  Too many people.

    I'm not sure what's out there for 'exercise with autism'.  I've just always done exercise.  Though it's always been in 'lone' activities.  Exercise, of course, releases endorphins, which interact with receptors in the brain that reduce perceptions of pain and bring a general positive feeling in the body.

    I did Bujinkai karate for several years, reaching 7th Kyu (blue belt), and always enjoyed - as has been pointed out above - the learning of katas and commands.  I didn't enjoy sparring, though, and could never translate what I'd learned into effective action against an opponent.  I gave it up in the end because of an especially brutal grading where I sustained a couple of broken ribs.  I basically got fed up with the pain.

  • Hi Kate,

    Not seen any concrete evidence on exercise for autistic people, but as Martian Tom has said already, I prefer endurance sports with cycling being my favourite.  I think exercising alone may be favoured by some and I certainly feel more relaxed doing sports on my own - group sports always overwhelm me and I struggle with classes too.  Sports which have a require mental strength and clarity, and need a rhythm (such a maintaining cadence on a bike, pacing yourself when running) always relax me the most.