How Exercise Assists your Child with Energy Regulation 

Exercise and the holidays…both sound exhausting! But truthfully, exercise should be thought of as a necessity this time of year – not only for ourselves, but for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other complex conditions, too. As the holidays approach and the days get shorter, it sure feels like our energy fades, but with exercise and movement, energy levels can actually increase and help to fight those winter blues!

Here at The Center for Discovery®, we’ve developed a model for overall health and well-being, known as our HealthE6™ Model – a lifestyle medicine approach that includes being mindful of our student’s energy regulation. What exactly is energy regulation? It is threefold: it includes getting regular exercise, promoting quality sleep patterns, and keeping a healthy daily rhythm – including sleep, eating, and movement. These pieces all work in tandem and can be so helpful in warding off the extra stress that we all know comes with this busy time of year.

Exercise equals movement, so think of what you can do to help both you and your child move more. Here are some simple and quick tips:

  • Schedule time. The night before, think about your day and your child’s day. Make a plan to allow time to fit in an opportunity for exercise and movement.
  • Hold yourself accountable. Tell your plans to a friend. Ask your friend to check in on you to encourage you to follow through.
  • Know your child and their limits. If they love to walk, begin with a short 15 minute brisk walk that may be just the right amount.
  • Have a Fitbit or an exercise app?Use it! There are several to choose from.  Use apps to set goals for you and your child. Exercise apps give us feedback on distance, time, and heart rate, etc. Use it for motivation to improve and to keep exercise consistent.
  • Use what you have. Do you have a radio? Turn on some music and dance.  It doesn’t have to be pretty; just fun!  Do you have stairs? There’s nothing like a step workout to get the heart pumping! Just be careful. Do you have a set of weights? Teach your child a simple routine. You may have to guide them the first few times, but eventually they will get the hang of it.
  • Have fun! Get outside, play games, and make movement something the whole family can enjoy.

The Center for Discovery® has created numerous structured programs for your child to participate in. Please contact our Adapted Physical Education department for more information regarding our unique EnerGym program, as well as any other questions you may have regarding sports and fitness, along with the important of movement.

Written by Alexa Cheh-Mickelson, Director of Adapted Physical Education at The Center for Discovery®.

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