Document Type


Publication Date



Human Kinetics

Source Publication

Journal of Physical Activity & Health

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1123/jpah.2021-0438


Background: The aims of this review were to describe exercise interventions, facilitators, and barriers to physical activity for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder.

Methods: A systematic review of the literature, appraising the validity of each article with Melnyk and Fineout-Overholt’s level of evidence, from different databases CINAHL, Cochrane, PsycINFO, PubMed, ProQuest, and Web of Science between 2000 and 2020 was conducted. As the initial search revealed no articles on exercise interventions and only 2 articles with children with autism spectrum disorder, the aim was widened to all parents of children.

Results: Forty-five articles were identified on barriers to physical activity including being the primary caregiving parent, perception of guilt and selfishness, and adhering to exercise programs they do as part of research, once research ends. Facilitators for physical activity including parents being more likely to exercise if they can bring their child with them and parents preferring exercise that is a lifelong habit, such as walking.

Conclusions: Due to the lack of research on parents of children with autism spectrum disorder, recommendations include development and testing of interventions for parents of children with this condition including family-based exercise interventions where children and parents have a choice to exercise together.


Accepted version. Journal of Physical Activity & Health, Vol. 19, No. 2 (February 2022): 132-147. DOI. © 2022 Human Kinetics. Used with permission.

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