Assisted Cycling Therapy (ACT) improves inhibition in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder

Shannon Ringenbach, Katrin C. Lichtsinn, Simon D. Holzapfel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background A novel exercise modality termed Assisted Cycling Therapy (ACT) has been used successfully in patients with Parkinson's disease, but its effects in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have not been investigated.Method The aim was to examine the acute effects of 2 modes of exercise on cognitive and motor functioning in adolescents with ASD. Participants (N = 10) randomly completed 3 interventions on nonconsecutive days. The interventions were (a) voluntary cycling (VC), in which participants cycled at their self-selected pedalling rate; (b) ACT, in which the participants voluntary pedalling rates were augmented with a motor to ensure the maintenance of 80rpm; and (c) no cycling (NC), in which the participants sat and watched a video.Results Participants inhibition improved significantly and improvements in cognitive planning and set-switching approached significance after a single session of ACT; however, no improvements in inhibition, cognitive planning, or set-switching were observed following the VC or NC sessions. Exercise perception improved after the VC session but did not change after the ACT or NC sessions.Conclusions ACT appears to benefit cortical structures in adolescents with ASD, but a chronic intervention may be necessary to improve exercise perception and self-efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-387
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2015


  • aerobic exercise
  • brain
  • cycling
  • developmental disability
  • executive function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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