Kayaking, Swimming and the Behavioral Benefits

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Ryan, 9 years old, participating in the Kids Marathon at the peninsula. Friends, Di Di (on left) and Jeanne (on right) joined us to cheer Ryan at the finish line.

It is 80 degrees and sunny in Erie — perfect weather for outdoor sports, games or just about anything that you dreamed of doing in the midst of a snowstorm.  Summer provides a great opportunity for you and your child to be active, whether it is biking, hiking or swimming.

Yes, we all know that exercise provides health benefits; however, for children on the autism spectrum and with ADHD, there are numerous behavioral benefits. From my experience with Ryan, children who exhibit repetitive behaviors enjoy activities such as swimming and jogging because they have repeated actions.  Research shows that exercise improves attention, self control and impulsive behaviors. I have seen this firsthand with Ryan displaying decreased repetitive behaviors, less aggression and more focus to task.

Exercise and physical activity has been part of our lives since he was a young child. Interestingly, some of Ryan’s favorite activities at age 5, such as swimming and jogging, are his favorites still today. Exercise became our routine. Saturday and Sunday mornings we are at the gym using the aerobic machines, weights, and swimming.  Afternoons you will find us at the water park, swimming, playing miniature golf, or engaging in outdoor activities like biking at the peninsula.  I confess that at the end of the day I am exhausted, and Ryan is still up for an evening of activities.

This Saturday will find us trying out a new activity: kayaking. Ryan cannot wait to kayak. A friend is going to teach us the basics since it’s a new activity for us, and who knows, it may become one of our favorites. I’ll fill you in next week on what I hope will be a successful but uneventful day at the lagoons in a kayak!

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