7 Great Workouts and Exercise Videos for Autistic Children
Exercise has great physical benefits. It maintains cardiovascular health (preventing conditions like stroke and heart disease) and assists our bodies in managing blood sugar and insulin levels, which can help with weight control. In addition, exercise can help regulate our sensory and nervous systems, and boost mental health and self-esteem.
While beneficial, exercise can sometimes be challenging for Autistic children. Sensory processing issues can make things more difficult: if our child’s vestibular system is not functioning correctly, they may be fearful of movement, and have issues with balance and coordination. Problems with proprioception (body awareness) can also have an impact, as our child struggles to ‘feel’ what their body is doing while moving.
Other sensory issues can also factor. Our child may get upset or distracted if the environment they are exercising in is too noisy or has a strong smell, or if there are other children shouting or brushing up against them.
Exercising at home can therefore be a nice option for our children. Being able to choose an activity suited to their preferences can help our child feel more in control (and thus safer). The environment is familiar and they can go at their own pace. It’s usually easier to limit distracting or distressing sensory input at home too.
There are lots of freely available exercise videos online, some of which are specifically aimed at children with additional needs. We share some of our favourites below.
If our child struggles to follow instructional videos, or if we are trying to limit screen time, there are also lots of fun active games we can play with our child at home.
Exercise and Workout Videos for Autistic Children
This comprehensive video series from the US-based National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability is aimed at parents and caregivers of children on the Autistic children. It has some fabulous ideas, resources and demonstrations on tailoring an exercise program for your child, and includes sensory integration information. It is taught by two sport and disability experts and has 28 different videos.
This is a great series for keeping your younger children fit. There are some nice easy exercises which are well explained and demonstrated with lots of time to get it right.
This is a brilliant resource by Cosmic Kids is helpful to teach yoga and mindfulness to smaller children. There are lots of great themes to keep it fun and engaging for children with all interests. They use simple instructions so this may also work for some older children with learning difficulties.
This video by Lucy Wyndham-Read uses artwork to make the workout visually engaging.
Koo Koo Kanga Roo includes a very large series of videos.
They have some fun songs and some easy to follow dance moves or you can just do your own thing. There is something for any child’s taste.
This YouTube channel offers “healthy music for a child’s heart, body and mind”. It is aimed at toddlers and pre-school children with lots of songs to sing and dance along to. Movements are simple so easy to follow or just freestyle dance to.
Joe Wicks is a popular fitness trainer. His live YouTube workout videos/PE classes for children were hugely popular during the first lockdown.
The workouts were different every day so there are plenty for children who need lots of stimulation and variety to choose from. If your child is better with routine, or needs time to learn movements, you can choose one to repeat.