Occupational therapy exercises for adults are designed to promote independence, enhance daily functioning, and address specific physical or cognitive challenges.
It's essential to tailor exercises to an individual's needs and abilities. Always consult with a qualified occupational therapist before starting any new exercise program. Here are some occupational therapy activities for adults that can be done independently:
Play memory games such as matching cards, Sudoku, or crossword puzzles. Gradually increase difficulty as skills improve. Also, engage in activities that challenge memory and problem-solving.
Relaxation and rest methods
Exercises to reduce anxiety and tension are popular parts of OT programs. Breathing exercises are an important aspect of occupational therapy because they help the patient to put their body into a state of rest. Breathing exercises help you improve the quality of your sleep if you do them before bed or naptime!
Muscle and joint pain are a common complaint for elderly OT patients. Leg extensions are a simple, equipment-free activity that can help stretch the muscles and improve range of motion.
Enhances fine motor skills that can be used to set out vitamins, supplements, and prescriptions in a weekly pill tray, thereby helping to maintain independence with medication.
Yoga helps improve balance, flexibility, muscle tone, focus, and concentration. It can also help with fall prevention and an enhanced sleep quality.
Hand strengthening exercises for adults
Wrist Extension and Flexion
Start with your forearm on a table, move your hand up and down, bending at your wrist. When you’re done, repeat with your palm facing up.
Thumb Extension and Flexion
Start with your palm open, as if you were signaling the number 5. Then, practice moving your thumb over to your little finger, signaling the number 4. Continue to move your thumb back and forth between these 2 positions.
Inner Arm Stretch
Place your hands in your lap and interlace your fingers. Then stretch your affected arm palm-side up. You should feel this stretch all the way up your inner arm. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds and release. Then, repeat on the other side. Wrist Stretch
With your fingers still interlaced, gently bend your affected wrist backward and get a nice stretch there. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds and release. Repeat on the other side. Pinching Clothespins with Each Finger
To gently improve finger strength, take a clothespin and practice pinching it with different fingers. Start with your thumb and index finger, then move onto your thumb and middle finger, ring finger, then pinky. Using your thumb, index finger and middle finger is a functional ‘tripod grip’.
Take a small ball of therapeutic putty. Squeeze and release the putty with your fingers. Focus on using different grips (pinch, three-finger, whole hand). Gradually increase resistance by using firmer putty.
To improve finger strength and coordination. Place your hand on a flat surface. Tap each finger to your thumb, one at a time. Repeat the sequence, gradually increasing speed. Use both hands for bilateral coordination.
Balance and Coordination
Stand with the heel of one foot touching the toe of the other. Walk forward, placing the heel of one foot directly in front of the toe of the other. Repeat for a set distance or time. Use a wall or sturdy surface for support if needed.
Range of Motion
To Improve shoulder flexibility sit or stand comfortably, lift your shoulders up towards your ears, then move them in a circular motion. Perform both clockwise and counterclockwise rotations. Gradually increase the size of the circles.
Gross Motor Skills
To enhance lower body strength and stability, sit on a sturdy chair with feet flat on the floor. Stand up and sit back down without using your hands. Repeat the movement for a set number of repetitions.
To increase awareness and tolerance to tactile stimuli, use different textured materials (sandpaper, fabric, foam. Explore the textures with your hands, encouraging sensory integration. Gradually introduce more challenging textures.
To Improve visual tracking and coordination, focus on an object with your eyes. Move the object horizontally, vertically, and in a circular motion. Follow the object with your eyes without moving your head.
Kitchen Task Simulation
To enhance independence in daily activities, practice activities like cutting, slicing, or opening jars in a controlled environment. Use adaptive tools if necessary. Focus on building confidence in kitchen-related tasks.
These occupational therapy exercises can be adapted to individual needs and can contribute to overall well-being and functional independence. Always consult with an occupational therapist to create a personalized exercise plan.