Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Cay Anderson-Hanley




exercise, behavior, austism, exergaming, video games, intervention


Aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease repetitive behaviors in autistic children. Additionally, research has shown significant effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive function across the life-span. Exergames combine physical and mental exercise by integrating interactive videogaming components. This experimental study explored the potential benefits of a single bout of exergaming using Dance Dance Revolution, as well as the impact of the component parts of exergaming (mental vs. physical exercise). It was hypothesized that repetitive behaviors would decline and executive controls would increase. Participants with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions lasting 30 minutes (exergaming with DDR, exercise with a dance video, or watching a video). Participants' interactions with the principal investigator were videotaped pre and post-intervention. Videotapes were coded for repetitive behaviors using an operationalization of the GARS-2. A brief neuropsychological battery assessing executive function was also administrated. No significant interactions between intervention type and changes on the measures of executive function and behavior were found. The difficulty level of DDR in the context of a single bout of exercise may have frustrated participants, thus decreasing the effectiveness of the intervention. Future research should look at the effectiveness of simpler exergames or utilize a training period before evaluation of effects.