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Therapy Band Resistance Activities

This is an excerpt from Physical Activities for Young People With Severe Disabilities by Lindsay Canales & Rebecca Lytle.

Primary Concepts 

Muscular strength and cardiorespiratory endurance


Secondary Concept 



Activity Goal

To increase muscular strength and cardiorespiratory endurance by manipulating a therapy band.



Therapy bands or tubing



No setup required.


Safety Tip

Find out whether any of your students have latex allergies before selecting therapy band tubing. Tubing is available in nonlatex.



1. Have each student begin with one or two therapy bands. 

2. Have the students perform approximately 10 reps of each exercise.


Therapy band activities:

  • Biceps curls—The student steps on one end of the band while holding the other end. The student pulls up on the band to perform a biceps curl.
  • Wheelchair—The student rolls one wheel on the end of the band or attaches one end of the band to the bottom of the chair.
  • Two-arm biceps curls—The student stands with both feet in the center of the therapy band. One hand is on each end of the band. The student lifts both hands to waist level while holding on to the therapy band and releases, repeating the sequence.
  • Wheelchair—The student rolls both wheels over the band or attaches two bands to the bottom of the chair, one on each side.
  • Flys—The student holds one end of the band in each hand with the band positioned in front of the body. The student pulls the band out and in while the arms remain straight. The student then repeats with the band overhead.
  • Rows—Wrap the band tightly around a pole or beam at the student’s eye level. The student holds the band on each end and pulls back on the band in a rowing motion, repeatedly.

Low Variations

  • See the preceding wheelchair ideas.
  • Attach the band to the student’s wrist or hand so that the student does not have to grip the therapy band.
  • When the exercise requires two hands, have the student hold one end of the band while an adult holds the other end.
  • Purchase bands with the least resistance (usually labeled light or easy).

High Variations

  • Use colored bands with more resistance.
  • Increase the number of repetitions.
  • Have students keep a journal of how many reps they do of each exercise and their improvement.
  • Incorporate additional therapy band exercises.

Informal Assessment Questions

  • Is the student able to hold the therapy band appropriately?
  • Is the student able to manipulate the therapy band repeatedly in the specified exercises?


Read more about Physical Activities for Young People with Severe Disabilites.