Gardening is great for both body and mind. Retired seniors find gardening particularly good as they now have more time for it. Gardening gives them fresh air and activity. They can watch plants and flowers grow over the season. One challenge: the physical limitations we face as we age. One product can help the aging gardener, however – garden seats.
Physical activity is vital to good health. If most of the day is spent sitting in a chair watching a screen, the body is going to crave movement. Motion is lotion, and physical activity pumps the joints full of the nutrients that they need to stay healthy.
Unfortunately, most Americans don’t get enough of the physical activity that they need. This is truly a shame, particularly for older Americans, as research has shown that regular physical activity is estimated to…
- Decrease a man’s risk of stroke by 66% and a woman’s risk of stroke by 50%
- Decrease one’s risk of dementia by 50%
- Reduce one’s risk of suffering a heart attack by 50%
- Keeps one’s bones from developing osteopenia
- Helps prevent muscle loss
And those are only some of the benefits of regular physical activity. As you can see, proper levels of physical activity are a must if one wants to age well. One of the best ways to add more gentle physical activity to one’s daily lifestyle is to plant a garden.
Gardening is Great
Did you know that it’s estimated that three hours of gardening equates to around an hour of intense gym time? If you hate going to the gym, that’s a fun workaround. Gardening can be a relaxing means of burning calories too! Who doesn’t enjoy watching the progress they make as they weed their garden? Did you know that the very act of weeding burns approximately 300 calories/hour?
The truth is gardening is good for us.
Spending a little bit of time everyday tending to plants and vegetables has even been pointed out to be a possible cause of the French paradox as well, where despite eating calorie dense foods and drinking buckets of wine, the French are still thin. A full 30% of the citizens of France own a garden they regularly tend to.
There’s only one problem: though gardening is great for us, many Americans have joint limitations that prohibit them (at least they think) from participating in this relaxing activity.
Just take a look at knee pain.
It’s estimated that there are 100 million Americans living with knee pain. A full 33% of Americans report dealing with knee pain at some point in their lives, about 20% of women experience it, and somewhere between 15-20% of men struggle with it.
All of this combined makes it so that knee pain is the second most common cause of chronic pain in the United States.
Gardening can be strenuous work, and any type of joint condition doesn’t help make things any easier. A great deal of stooping, squatting, and getting down on all fours is often required to complete gardening tasks, but for the individual with severe, chronic knee pain, many of these movement patterns are simply out of the question.
3 Ways Garden Seats Help
This is where I believe garden seats can come in handy. Nothing more than a small seat low to the ground with wheels attached, the garden seat helps ensure that even those struggling with joint limitations or chronic pain can work in the garden with minimal pain or discomfort.
A garden seat does this in three ways.
1 – A garden seat keeps you from having to get on your knees. If there isn’t a lot of cushioning behind one’s kneecap to begin with, putting pressure against one’s knee can be very uncomfortable. It’s technically just pushing a disc-shaped bone (the kneecap) into the exposed bone of the knee joint.
The more one can avoid doing that, the better. If one is planting a row of carrot seeds, though, it’s virtually impossible to do so without getting close to the ground. A garden seat allows one to do this while keeping pressure off the knees, and on the butt instead.
2 – Garden seats help diminish pain as they reduce the need to get down and up while tending plants. This movement can be very painful to perform through a full range of motion for somebody with joint limitations/chronic pain.
Garden seats help by making it so the range of motion needed to get to a standing position is diminished. Picture the difference between trying to get out of a low sofa versus getting off a bar stool. If one struggles with chronic knee pain, getting off the barstool is going to be much less painful of an experience.
A garden seat narrows the range of motion and weight bearing a seniors has to endure while gardening.
3 – Garden seats can help somebody with joint limitations by making weight-bearing movements easier. Sarcopenia (severe muscle loss) is very common as one ages, and it can make it difficult to perform daily tasks of life (e.g., getting up off the ground).
Tales of older people falling in the garden and then needing assistance to get up are not uncommon. This is because severe muscle weakness has made it impossible for the person to get their body up off the ground. This is the same reason so many older people must use the arms of a chair to push themselves up to a standing position.
This is where a garden seat can help. It gives the user something to push off from, making it so that one doesn’t have to rely on solely their strength (which may not be sufficient) to get up.
5 Garden Seats to Consider
I’ve been gardening for years, longer than I’ve been working with seniors. I examined the garden seats readily available on Amazon, and here are what we believe to be 5 of the best available.
1) TomCare Garden Kneeler Seat
Likely one of the most versatile designs for a garden seat out there is this one from TomCare. Coming in at around $50, this seat is very affordable, and it doubles as a kneeboard as well.
- A Multi-functional Kneeler: It is not only a kneeler but also a seat, you can use it as a kneeler when weeding and also can use it as a seat when fishing.
- Two Convenient Tool Bags: One large tool bag has 4 pockets, and another small tool bag has 3 pockets, it is very convenient to keep your tools outdoor.And you can also take it down anytime, it's easy to clean.
All you have to do is flip the seat over for whatever form of support is more convenient to you at the time. The chair is made of a nice, cushiony foam, and the legs double as arm supports as well. Grabbing the arm supports one can easily hoist themselves up to a standing position.
The maximum weight capacity for this garden seat is 330 pounds, so it will handle most Americans, and it comes with two convenient tool pouches as well, so that all of your gear is in one convenient to access location.
When you’re done with the seat, just fold it up, and it can easily be stowed away for easy storage.
2) Sunnydaze Rolling Garden Cart
If you’re looking for a design that’s built like a tank, this is what you’re looking for. This is a more expensive design, coming in at $140, but the four wheels help to ensure that you’re able to easily move about your garden planting and weeding with minimal joint discomfort.
- Overall dimensions: 31 inches long not including the handle (47 inches long including the extendable handle) x 18 inches wide x 22 inches tall. Seat: 17.25 inches side-to-side x 14.5 inches front-to-back; Weighs 32 pounds; Seat adjusts from 16.5 to 22 inches tall so you can easily find a comfortable height for working; Weight capacity: 330 pounds
- Durable design: Heavy-duty yard cart frame is made from powder-coated steel with a extendable handle, removable light round planter basket, and coated tire rims. It also features a plastic utility tray beneath the seat.
A conveniently placed basket is attached to the back of the garden cart to easily stow tools as you move throughout the garden as well. You get a one-year warranty when you purchase this item, and it can hold up to 330 pounds as well.
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty style garden seat that will also let you pull your tools with you throughout the yard, this makes for an excellent choice.
3) The Garden Cart Utility Wagon by the Pure Garden Store
If you and your spouse enjoy spending the evenings in the garden together as you watch the sun go down, this can make for a convenient means of bringing your drinks with you.
- GARDENING SEAT – This rolling cart is ideal for anyone eager to alleviate back and knee pain when planting or weeding. The lid creates a sturdy seat that makes low to the ground tasks much easier, with less need for crouching or stooping.
- EASILY TRANSPORTS – The sturdy 6” wheels and built-in handles on each side allow you to navigate this rolling storage cart through tall grass, over rocks, and around the yard. The easy maneuverability is ideal for both kids and adults with green thumbs.
Priced very reasonably at around $30, this garden cart is essentially a wheeled cooler. It isn’t insulated to keep drinks cold for long, but if you’re just heading out to the garden, this will be more than adequate. Of course, it can be used to simply hold gardening supplies as well.
The lid to the cart functions as a seat as well and is capable to hold up to 220 pounds. If you’re looking for a versatile cart with plenty of stowing capacity, the Pure Garden brand garden cart makes for an excellent selection.
4) Pure Garden Rolling Cart with Wheels
While this garden seat does look as if it belongs in a Willy Wonka movie, it can serve its purpose very well. It costs $65, so it’s still priced very affordable, and the large wheels will help you to roll along mulched surfaces with ease.
- GARDEN CART – This rolling garden stool is ideal for any gardening enthusiast to alleviate back and knee pain when planting or weeding. In addition, this rolling cart can be used for other tasks around the home like painting, cleaning, car repair, more
- EASILY TRANSPORTS – The gardening chair features sturdy plastic wheels that are 3” in diameter and can roll forwards and backwards on most level terrains. The lightweight materials also make it easy to lift and carry this scooter to the next project
This is about as low frills of a design as one can find. There’s a chair, four wheels, and a small space under the seat where one can hold a few items. The chair is rated up to 200 pounds, so this isn’t going to be a suitable choice for heavier users, but it is still a garden bench worth knowing about.
5) Deluxe Garden Rocker Rolling Work Seat
You’ve seen the Willy Wonka garden seat, now get ready for the Star Trek garden seat. That’s exactly where this garden seat looks like it belongs. Each of the four wheels is conical-shaped, meaning you can not only roll along the garden with this, but it is possible to lean while you’re using this chair as well.
- BETTER ON YOUR BACK: Patented Contoured Wheels of this rolling work seat provide a full range of motion while reducing strain on knees, back and neck as your body reaches and you scoot in the garden.
- EXCEPTIONAL ROLLING COMFORT: Contoured comfort seat swivels & can includes a foam pad to further enhance comfort while gardening or use as s garage, work or chore seat.
It’s a pricier garden seat at $80, but for those looking for a design with minimal fuss and a whole lot of function, this can serve as a very functional design.
3 Other Options
If you don’t feel like purchasing a garden seat, there are a few “DIY” options that can be utilized as well to help one move about in the garden.
1) A Walking Stick
While not a chair, if we’re looking at devices that can help one to get up from a crouching position that is readily available, it’s hard to beat a solid walking stick. A simple walking cane can also help decrease the amount of weight that is put on the legs as one is getting down onto and up from the ground.
2) A Modern Outdoor Bench
If you’re looking for a permanent design to keep at the end of your garden rows, why not check out this sleek and modern design that will not only look great at the end of your bean patch but will help you to get up into a standing position if you find yourself stuck on the ground nearby. You can get the plans for building this bench here.
3) An Old Wooden Chair
Why not just pick up an old wooden chair and keep it in the garden as a movement aid? One can easily find one of these at any yard sale or (often) sitting in the garage or shed. A folding chair is relatively light, provides a place to rest up off the ground, and can be used to help one get back up to a standing position if kept nearby.
A garden bench is a nice addition to any garden, particularly for those who have found it’s a bit more difficult to weed their lettuce patch than it used to be. If this is where one finds themselves, make sure to check out some of the options listed above.
Are there other garden benches out there you’ve found help to decrease joint pain and assist people with getting up off the dirt? Have you tried any of the above methods to any degree of success?
Let us know in the comments below.