Big List of Examples of Heavy Work Activities for Occupational Therapy

Heavy work interventions in occupational therapy can involve activities that provide deep pressure (proprioceptive) stimulation to the body, which can help to regulate the nervous system and improve overall body awareness and sensory processing. The purpose of heavy work interventions in occupational therapy is to provide sensory input to the body and improve overall body awareness, as well as increase strength, coordination, and endurance.

These types of activities can also be used to calm an overactive nervous system and improve focus and attention. The mechanism of action is believed to be due to intrinsic inhibition to influence a response. This helps clients who are over-stimulated or even those who are under-stimulated. Heavy work can be particularly useful for those with poor reality orientation such as due to confusion or dissociation.

The type and intensity of heavy work interventions will vary based on the individual’s needs and abilities, and should always be performed under the guidance and supervision of an occupational therapist. In addition, specific precautions and contraindications should be considered such as orthopedic conditions, poor cognitive awareness, fall risk, and so on.

  1. Balancing on a stability ball while performing weights or resistance band exercises
  2. Pushing a playground swing
  3. Isometric exercises
  4. Carrying groceries or heavy bags
  5. Animal care, such as grooming a horse
  6. Jumping rope with a weighted rope
  7. Mopping or vacuuming
  8. Pulling on a resistance band while seated or standing
  9. Walking or running while wearing a weighted vest
  10. Doing push-ups or sit-ups with added weight
  11. Pushing a heavy shopping cart
  12. Pushing a heavy baby stroller
  13. Digging or planting in a garden
  14. Swinging on a heavy rope or chain
  15. Squatting while carrying a heavy object
  16. Tugging or pushing heavy objects, such as furniture
  17. Playing tug-of-war
  18. Hiking or walking with a weighted backpack
  19. Weightlifting or resistance band exercises
  20. Stomping or marching in place
  21. Heavy manual labor, such as chopping wood
  22. Doing heavy work with hand tools, such as using a sledgehammer.
  23. Swimming
  24. Stirring for baking or cooking
  25. Jumping on a trampoline
  26. Exercising with a hand ergometer or other exercise equipment
  27. Carrying heavy items up and down stairs
  28. Raking leaves or other yard work
  29. Carrying heavy bags while hiking or climbing
  30. Carrying heavy objects up and down ladders
  31. Squeezing a hand gripper
  32. Playing with playdough
  33. Carrying a weighted backpack
  34. Wearing a weighted vest
  35. Rolling and lifting heavy objects, such as kegs or barrels
  36. Heavy resistance work with resistance bands
  37. Pulling a heavy object, such as a wagon
  38. Housekeeping tasks, such as laundry
  39. Scrubbing things by hand
  40. Carrying buckets of water or sand
  41. Digging sand
  42. Lifting and carrying heavy boxes
  43. Pushing a lawn mower or snow blower
  44. Pushing a weighted sled or dragging a heavy tire
  45. Pulling a weight machine or resistance band against resistance
  46. Doing push-ups
  47. Pushing or pulling large objects, such as a couch or refrigerator
  48. Lifting and carrying heavy bags of mulch or soil
  49. Scraping or sweeping with a heavy object, such as a snow shovel
  50. Practicing yoga
  51. Practicing tai-chi
  52. Rolling or manipulating therapy balls or sandbags
  53. Carrying a heavy load while walking on uneven terrain
  54. Rocking on a therapy horse or therapy bench
  55. Pulling a sled or dragging a tire
  56. Doing theraband exercsies
  57. Pushing a wheelchair
  58. Pushing a heavy door or rotating door
  59. Pushing a playground carousel or other rotating toy
  60. Kneading dough or other food preparation tasks
  61. Using heavy tools, such as a hammer or saw
  62. Climbing stairs while carrying a heavy object
  63. Washing a car
  64. Scrubbing tile in the shower or bathtub
  65. Mopping the wall


  1. Champagne, T. (2011). Sensory modulation and environment: Essential elements of occupation: Handbook and reference. Pearson Australia Group.