Heavy Work

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Heavy work refers to activities that push or pull against the body or involve carrying. Heavy work strengthens and maintains the proprioceptive system by offering resistance to joints, muscles, and connective tissues. According to pediatric occupational therapist (and author of Balanced And Barefoot) Angela Hanscom, “Heavy work helps to develop a strong and capable proprioceptive system.”1

Benefits of heavy work include:

  • Heavy work can be emotionally calming
  • Heavy work builds large and small muscle strength and control
  • Heavy work can build confidence and pride in children as they complete tasks and meet physical challenges
  • Heavy work can increase focus and alertness
  • Heavy work releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that improves mood and regulates the sensory system
  • Heavy work helps children learn to self-regulate

A few examples of heavy work:

  • Climbing up a slide, tree, rope, piece of furniture, or playground structure
  • Riding a bike, scooter board, scooter, skateboard, or tricycle
  • Carrying buckets, rocks, backpacks, laundry baskets, or suitcases
  • Digging in sand, dirt, snow, or mud
  • Pushing a wheelbarrow, wagon, shopping cart, vacuum cleaner, or person on a swing
  • Manipulating play dough, clay, or mud
  • Pulling weeds, wagons, or sleds
  • Throwing rocks, balls, or bean bags

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  1. Hanscom, Angela J. Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children (p. 41). New Harbinger Publications. Kindle Edition.