Heavy Work

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I don’t know about you, but whenever the seasons change, I notice most of my kiddos have a harder time focusing and self-regulating. They seem to be bouncing off the walls! My super smart OT friends have clued me in on the benefits of heavy work. Heavy work refers to tasks that provide the body with proprioceptive input to the muscles and joints. This can have a calming effect, but also provides increased awareness of where the body is in space. For many children, these tasks can help support focus and attention. (Not to mention all the benefits of physical activity in general!) Here are some ideas:

  • Pushing someone else on a swing
  • Building an obstacle course
  • Climbing up a slide
  • Playing tug of war
  • Animal walks
  • Carrying heavy bags
  • Pushing a cart
  • Pulling or pushing a heavy door
  • Hanging on monkey bars
  • Wheelbarrow walking
  • Playing catch with a heavy ball or beanbag
  • Push-ups
  • Carrying a stack of books
  • Dragging a heavy pillow or beanbag
  • Scrubbing dry erase marker off of a mirror

Bonus- I have been trying many of these with my rambunctious “threenager” at home, and it works like a charm for her! I have her help me carry in groceries or load wet clothes into the dryer, and we’ve noticed a big difference in her mood and behavior. When I really think about it, I tend to be more focused after working out or doing household chores.  It seems like we all can benefit from adding more heavy work to our daily routine! For other strategies for improving attention, check out our previous post on fidgeting.  Got any other inventive ideas? Post them in the comments below!

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Better get to work! 🙂

-Elizabeth Clark McKenzie, MS, CCC-SLP

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