Introduction: COVID-19 pandemic has affected individual lives in several aspects, including physical activity and dietary pattern, which are common challenges among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The purpose of this clinical trial was to investigate the effect of functional training along with online nutritional education on physical fitness indicators in 8-12 years old children with ASD. Methods: Eighty children with ASD (age = 9.73 ± 1.29 years, weight = 49.94 ± 2.08 kg, height = 146.08 ± 40 cm, BMI percentile = 64.88 ± 2.89, fat mass percentage = 24.71 ± 1.48) were randomly divided into four groups, including: (1) functional training, (2) online nutritional education, (3) functional training + nutritional education, and (4) control group. The interventional groups received their specific interventions for eight weeks and three session per week. The control group did not receive any intervention. Physical fitness indicators were assessed prior to the intervention and at the end of eight weeks.Results: There was no significant difference between the demographic and physical fitness parameters (PFPs), including upper limb, lower limb, abdominal, trunk strength, cardio-respiratory fitness, dynamic and static balance, flexibility, speed, and 1 repetition-maximum (1RM) between the groups before the interventions (P ˃ 0.05). There was a significant improvement in physical fitness indicators in all the interventional groups in comparison with the control group (P ≤ 0.001).Conclusion: The results of this study indicated that functional training and online nutritional education may improve physical fitness indicators in ASD children, offering beneficial health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder, Covid-19, Functional training, Online nutritional education, Physical fitness