7/17/2020 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Are you a gardener? Gardening is a popular hobby, with an estimated 77% of Americans interested in gardening. Whether you’re tending a flower garden or growing vegetables in your backyard, gardening is great exercise and a fun way to spend time outside. But if you have arthritis, like over 27 million Americans do, gardening can be challenging.

The pain and stiffness in your joints can reduce your strength and your mobility. It may seem that a hobby like gardening, with all that squatting, bending, and kneeling, may be out of the question. But, in fact, according to the Arthritis Foundation, gardening can be great exercise for managing arthritis. Tending a garden can keep your joints flexible and moving. It can help you maintain your range of motion and keep your muscles strong. Here are some ways to keep those plants – and your joints – healthy, even if you have arthritis.

1. Wear Gloves

Gardening gloves can cushion your joints and help you grip tools. If your joints need more cushioning, find gloves one or two sizes too big and put foam padding inside. Gloves can also help protect joints from cold temperatures.

2. Stretch

Gardening is a form of exercise, so prepare your body before you start. Gently stretch before getting to work. This helps prevent injury by loosening up your joints.

3. Use a Garden Stool

Sitting on a stool is much easier on your body than squatting or bending down to the ground over and over. It’s less tiring and reduces stress on joints. Look for a lightweight stool that’s easy to move around. Don’t sit too long, though. Sitting too long can make you get stiff. Make sure you can stand up when you need to. A kneeling pad can also help cushion your knees as you garden. You can also consider a scooter for the garden, so you don’t have to constantly bend over as you move from plant to plant.

4. Grow Plants in Containers

If you find it difficult to get up and down, or find that you’re kneeling or stooping too much, try growing plants in raised beds or containers instead of in the ground. You may find that you have less weeding to do in raised beds, too. Or try a windowsill!

5. Take Breaks

Plan your gardening tasks wisely. Break the work into small, manageable chunks. Pace yourself; you don’t have to get everything done in one day. Also, alternate between easier and tougher tasks. Every 20 minutes, switch to a different task that doesn’t require the same muscles and joints you’ve been using. For example, if you’ve been kneeling and weeding, stand up and trim the hedges for a while instead.

6. Choose Tools Wisely

The right gardening tools can make a big difference. Use long handled tools that you can use while standing up, to reduce squatting and bending. Other long-handled tools, like pruners, can also help you reach higher up, so you don’t have to get up on a ladder. Look for soft, easy-to-grip tool handles that will protect finger joints to help while gardening with arthritis. Try slipping a spongy rubber sleeve over handles of tools do you don’t have to hold the tool so tightly.

7. Find a Helper

Find a willing helper for the tougher jobs. Ask for help with difficult or dangerous tasks like moving large pots or hauling heavy bags of soil from your trunk to the garden. Make sure your helper knows that you don’t want them to do all the work. Your aim is to take care of the garden yourself, and that you enjoy doing most of the work yourself.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff