functional standing tolerance activities3

11+ Functional Standing Tolerance Activities for Occupational Therapists

If you’re looking for functional, occupation-based standing tolerance activities to use in your adult rehab practice, we’ve got you covered! 

I’ve compiled a list of my favorite occupation-based treatment ideas for when you’re looking to keep your standing tolerance interventions related to your patients’ daily occupations and their current therapy goals.

These standing tolerance activities are geared towards any patients that have reduced tolerance to standing, meaning they are unable to stand for their usual amounts of time needed to complete their standing ADLs and IADLs. If their standing tolerance is fine and not impacting any of their ADLs/IADLs or working to address their goals, don’t do these interventions!

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Lastly: All of these activities can be graded up or down, starting for as short or as long as your patient can tolerate. And as always, remember to first ask your patients what occupations they find relevant and enjoy to keep your treatments client-centered. Also, be sure to use any required assistive device as needed for safety.

1. Preparing a Simple Meal or Beverage 

This is a patient favorite standing tolerance intervention when I’m working in inpatient rehab in particular. Our unit has a small kitchen with a stove, microwave, dishes and a coffee maker. If I haven’t planned a meal with the patient ahead of time, they’re almost always up for preparing themselves a cup of coffee or tea in standing.

functional standing tolerance

2. Grooming at the Sink

My second go-to standing tolerance intervention is a favorite of mine when I’m working in acute care, as well as inpatient rehab, particularly since so often patients don’t get set up to brush their teeth by other staff. Not only is standing and being out of bed so important, but almost everyone is grateful to be able to brush their teeth.

3. Showering in Standing

When you’re working on showering in rehab, it’s always a safe bet to have a shower chair or tub bench available as needed, but a great way to work on standing tolerance is to try to stand for parts of the shower if possible. This may be for just a few minutes at a time or for the whole shower depending on what your patient can tolerate.

4. Organizing a Bedroom or Kitchen Closet

Depending on whether you are working in an inpatient rehab setting or in home health, organizing a room closet or kitchen cabinets (or anywhere that needs it) while standing is a great way to take a person’s mind off of the standing portion. It also can help the individual feel good about getting organized.

5. Washing and/or Folding Laundry

This one may not be as fun for some people (and I recommend avoiding it if your patient doesn’t ever have to do their laundry at home). While not as fun, working on laundry in standing is another functional way to help take a person’s mind off of the challenging task of standing.

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6. Gardening

If your setting has planters or even just a few pots and soil, planting seeds or small flowers in standing is a great way to incorporate standing with an activity that many people enjoy a bit more than household chores.

Planting seeds or seedlings and being able to see the progress while tending to them during the rehab stay is also encouraging and fun for patients.

functional standing tolerance

7. Playing a Card Game or Board Game

Another great activity geared more towards leisure versus home management is to break out the cards or board games that your patient enjoyed prior to coming to rehab. I’ve learned that when people are engaged in a more fun activity, they can stand for so much longer than if they were just doing static standing.

8. “Grocery Shopping”

If your facility has a kitchen or even high or medium-height cabinets, you can assemble a grocery container kit to have your patients putting these items in high or low surfaces (being mindful of safety). This is one of my other go-to’s for standing tolerance activities in the kitchen.

You can also have your patient place the grocery containers in a refrigerator at different heights, which is also very functional. I do make sure to explain to my patient about safe reaching distances (eye level to waist level) to ensure extra safety when they go home.

9. Coloring or Painting

Not only is coloring great for stress reduction, it is also an activity that many people enjoy as a creative outlet. If your patient enjoys coloring but doesn’t have an artistic flair (I can relate), you can pull out adult coloring books that make coloring so much easier.


10. Medication Management 

While this may be a more challenging activity, this is a good activity to do if your patient also can benefit from working on cognition. If they were previously independent with their medications, this is a great IADL to address, especially since many of our patients are being discharged with even more medications than they previously had.

Medication management also is a great fine motor coordination activity, so this activity really works on multiple impairments.

(For ideas on how to make your own medication management kit, this speech therapist does a great job of showing how she made hers.)

11. Incorporating Favorite Apps

So many of your patients likely utilize smartphones or tablets in their daily lives, so if they have theirs available, use them! Find out from them what their favorite apps are, whether it’s a game they love or if they’re avid social media users. Using their favorite apps to distract them from often-challenging standing is a great way to increase their tolerance in an engaging and functional way. 

If you find that your patients don’t usually have their devices with them, your department may be able to get a group device for therapeutic app use. Rehab-based apps are not only great for standing tolerance, but can also be used for fine motor coordination, cognition, visual perception, attention, and so much more. 


And there you have it! If you enjoyed this list of functional standing tolerance activities, please feel free to share it with anyone who you think would benefit from it.

We’d also love to know what YOUR favorite occupation-based standing tolerance activities are! As always, please share them in the comments below.

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