Let's Move Your Body! Physical Activity to Treat Anxiety in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Objectives: the present randomized study aimed to evaluate the effect of physical activity on anxiety levels in a sample of adults with ASD
Methods: Our study planned to recruit 20 participants who were randomly assigned to treatment or waiting list. Treatment consisted in one and a half hour per week of aerobic physical workout. Exercise sessions lasted for three months and subjects were required to attend at least 10 sessions. Heart rate and activity counts have been recorded during treatment sessions. Anxiety was evaluated using self-report questionnaires (i.e. Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale) as well as clinician-rated instruments (i.e. Hamilton Anxiety Scale). Additionally, cortisol diurnal variation was measured before and after treatment.
Results: all patients in the treatment arm experienced improvement in symptoms and there was a significant decrease in self-report anxiety (p<0.05).
Conclusions: physical activity may represent an alternative effective treatment for anxiety in this patient group.