Exercises to Improve Dexterity

It’s not uncommon to lose strength and dexterity with your fingers and hands as you age. In fact, musculoskeletal hand problems are common in people over 50, and this only increases with people over 65. This can be due to carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other issues. However, it’s not just about improving the strength of your hands. You also have to work on the dexterity, or skill at performing certain tasks. In this article, we’ll go over 10 exercises to improve dexterity and strength in your hands, even as you age.

  • Do finger lifts. To do this, start with your hand flat on the table, and lift a finger off the table, one at a time. This can be challenging because our fingers often move together.
  • Learn an instrument. Whether it’s a flute, clarinet, guitar, piano, or violin, playing a musical instrument can help your hand muscles and improve your dexterity. Certain instruments are often easier to play than others, so if this seems challenging, try simple songs on a piano. If that is too hard, listen to music and clap or snap along to the beat.
  • Make a fist. Practice making a fist, as tight as you can, each day on each hand. Hold for three to five seconds, release slowly, and repeat five times each to improve your dexterity.
  • Play string games. Feel like a kid again with games like cat’s cradle and other string games that help keep your fingers strong and flexible. You can find instructions in a book or online, and you can even practice by yourself. As a bonus, following the instructions will be an exercise for your brain too!
  • Practice handwriting. While practicing handwriting the normal way can improve your dexterity slightly, try things like writing without using your thumb or writing with your non-dominant hand. Do this a few times a day to improve your hand strength, dexterity, and maybe have a laugh or two.
  • Sort small items. Sorting beads, buttons, coins, seeds, or other small items is a great exercise for your hands and fingers. Use small cups, a muffin tin, or ice cube trays to sort them.
  • Try origami. The Japanese paper folding art is not only great for your hand (and mind), it’s fun too! You can look up different designs and instructions either in a book or online and practice making paper flowers, animals, boxes, and other designs.
  • Knit or sew. While sewing, knitting, and/or crocheting can be fun, creative, and useful in creating different items, they can also improve your hand dexterity. You can also try things like cross stitching, needlepoint, or macrame.
  • Play with putty. Playing with putty, clay, or even play-doh with grandkids can all work to improve and maintain your dexterity. You can use cookie cutters and rolling pins to make different shapes and patterns, and you can even mix small objects in and then exercise your fingers even more by digging to work them out.
  • Practice locks and latches. Working with locks, latches, and nuts and bolts can do wonders for your hands. You can even create (or buy or have someone else make) a simple locks and latches board to help you practice easily.