Gardening Safety Tips for Seniors

Gardening Safety Tips for Seniors

 

 

Both Experienced and Beginner Gardeners Should Keep These Tips in Mind

 

Gardening can be a fun activity for seniors to spend time with their family, relax for themselves, spend time outdoors, care for something other than themselves and even provide their own fruits and vegetables. Spring is the perfect time to start making plans for the garden and the weather is perfect for spending time outside. (Image above: Haws Design Traditional Peter Rabbit Design Metal Watering Can created by John Haws in 1886. Made in England.)

Physical, mental and age-related conditions must be considered, however, when older people work in the garden, but they should not prevent people from enjoying the garden.

These include:

Skin – fragile, thinning skin makes older people susceptible to bumps, bruises and sunburn.

Vision – changes in the eye lens structure, loss of peripheral vision and generally poorer eyesight can restrict activities.

Mental abilities – mental health, thinking and memory abilities may be affected by dementia and similar conditions.

Body temperature – susceptibility to temperature changes and a tendency to dehydrate or suffer from heat exhaustion, are common concerns with outdoor physical activity for older people.

Skeletal – falls are more common because balance is often not as good. Osteoporosis and arthritis may restrict movement and flexibility.

 

So whether you are an experienced gardener, or just beginning, you should keep these tips in mind:

 

 

Dress to Protect

Gear up to protect yourself from lawn and garden pests, harmful chemicals, sharp or motorized equipment, insects, and harmful rays of too much sun.

Wear safety goggles, sturdy shoes, and long pants to prevent injury when using power tools and equipment.

Protect your hearing when using machinery. If you have to raise your voice to talk to someone who is an arm’s length away, the noise can be potentially harmful to your hearing.

Wear gardening gloves to lower the risk for skin irritations, cuts, and certain contaminants.

Use insect repellent containing DEET. Protect yourself from diseases caused by mosquitoes and ticks. Wear long-sleeved shirts, and pants tucked in your socks. You may also want to wear high rubber boots since ticks are usually located close to the ground.

 

 

UV Rays Can Cause Sunburn and Skin Cancer

Lower your risk for sunburn and skin cancer. Gardening in the sun can be harsh on seniors’ skin which is more sensitive to light.  Wear long sleeves, wide-brimmed hats, sun shades, and sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 30 or higher

 

Example:  These Sloggers wide brimmed hats for women and men are great for gardeners!

 

 

Use Ergonomic Tools

Gardening can be very hard on seniors’ backs, hands and wrists. However, with the right tools, gardening can be made more comfortable and enjoyable. Bottom line:  these items really make a difference in the gardening experience.

 

Things to Try:

ergonomic gardening hand tools

a rolling seat garden cart

a cushioned kneeler

knee pads

 

Examples:

This Radius Ergonomic Gardening Tool Set includes an ergonomic trowel, transplanter, weeder, and cultivator. These tools are ultra lightweight, and have a patented ergonomic grip.

 

This Best Choice Garden Cart Rolling Work Seat has sturdy 10″ wheels, a utility basket, and a weight capacity of 300 lbs.

 

 

This Ohuhu Garden Seat Kneeler With 2 Bonus Tool Pouches comes assembled, and opens and closes with a quick snap. There are some terrific reviews for this kneeler!

 

 

These Viahart Comfortable Soft Ultra Light Foam Knee Pads also come in blue, and have excellent reviews.

 

 

This KI Store Super thick and shock-absorbing 2.36” high density memory foam kneeling pad with EVA foam protects knees comfortably from hard and uneven ground.

Its double water-resistant layer protection and easy clean exterior and removable and washable, quick-drying neoprene covered means it effectively block the water. The water-resistant interior layer prevents foam swelling if water seeps through seam.

This pad is portable, easy to clean and light weight (just as the size of briefcases when folded).

 

 

Switch up your Routine

Gardening can be more strenuous than you may realize. If you haven’t been outside in a while and haven’t been getting regular exercise, your best bet is to pace yourself and do a little at a time.

Consider changing both your position and activity every 20 to 30 minutes and take a 10-minute break between switching. Tending to your garden can involve a lot of bending, lifting, and pulling which can leave you sore the following day if you overdo it, so it is important to listen to your body and slow down whenever you feel you need to.

To get a more well-rounded exercise and rest your back, rotate your daily gardening routine. Work on ground plants one day and then on stand and work on vines and trees the next. Switching things up will work out various muscle groups while giving the other group a rest on alternate days.

 

 

Begin Early

Gardening in the morning when temperatures are lower can reduce chance of heat exhaustion or any other sun-exposure related issues. Start your morning in a relaxing way by working in the garden. 

 

 

Know Your Limits and Stay Hydrated

Even being out for short periods of time in high temperatures can cause serious health problems. Monitor your activities and time in the sun to lower your risk for heat-related illness.

If you’re outside in hot weather for most of the day you’ll need to make an effort to drink more fluids.

Avoid drinking liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar, especially in the heat.

Take breaks often. Try to rest in shaded areas so that your body’s thermostat will have a chance to recover. Stop working if you experience breathlessness or muscle soreness.

Pay attention to signs of heat-related illness, including extremely high body temperature, headache, rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, confusion, or unconsciousness.

Eat healthy foods to help keep you energized.

It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re gardening, especially for seniors. Be sure to bring a large bottle of water and maybe even a light snack to stay hydrated on sunny days and prevent dehydration.

 

You can garden all day with this “Coldest Water Bottle,” which keeps liquids seriously cold up to 36 hours or more!

 

 

Work at the Right Pace

As a senior, you may not be able to work at the same pace or rate that you used to, so don’t be hard on your self. Work at a comfortable pace that is safe for your physical condition, take breaks when you need to and don’t push yourself! Progress is progress no matter what!

 

 

Bring your Cellphone

Bring your cellphone in case of unexpected falls or accidents so that you can easily call for help.

If you’re looking for a new cell phone, I highly recommend the GreatCall Jitterbug Smart Phone for Seniors.  This is the phone my Dad uses, and he has been so pleased with both the way it functions and the customer service.

 

 

 

Make it a Social Activity

Try inviting a family member, neighbor or friend to garden with you. You can exchange tips and knowledge about gardening and both benefit from the finished product of their work. You can even share lunch afterword! 

 

 

Safety Proof your Garden

Outdoor spaces have major potential for accidents. Before you begin working in your garden, make sure there aren’t any rocks or roots in your path that could lead to falls. Also, be sure to look out for slick spots or forgotten tools that could cause you to trip or slip.

 

 

Attend to Injuries

If an elderly gardener has pre-existing injuries or develops injuries while gardening, tend to them immediately and take a break from gardening if necessary. Whether a cut, bruise, or bite, take care of it before you begin to work again. Gardening with open wounds can easily lead to infection, especially in seniors with weakened immune systems.  Have an all purpose household first aid kit available, as well as some insect repellent and insect bite cream.

 

 

 

 

 

Consider These Gardening Styles

 

Raised Gardening Beds

A raised bed is a good way to alleviate some of the strain that can come along with plants that are lower and close to the ground. With a rectangular shaped planting bed, you can find a chair or board so that you can sit and garden from a more comfortable, less strenuous position. Ideally, the width should be about arms length so that you can access the plants without risking losing your balance as you reach across.

Example:  This CedarCraft Elevated Garden Planter is available in a variety of sizes, and allows you to garden at a comfortable height.  It assembles easily, with no tools required.

 

 

 

Vertical Gardening

Vertical gardens are also more convenient for seniors who may be less agile and have a harder time bending and moving around as much. This type of gardening is ideal for vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, zucchini as well as different kinds of melons. You can tend to these gardens from your feet without needing to crouch all the way down to the ground. Some other added benefits of a vertical garden are the fact that they take up very little space and also get more sunshine than regular beds.

 

Example:  This YardCraft Vertical Planter is made from heavy duty natural cedar.

 

 

Create a Garden that You Can Maintain

Certain types of plants can require a lot of time and maintenance. Some will need a lot of water and you may not be equipped to carry a hose or a heavy watering can around. Before you decide what you will have in your garden, be sure to research what the upkeep will consist of and determine whether or not you’re physically capable of handling it yourself.

For research and inspiration, I recommend Better Homes Gardening Made Simple:  The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Gardening.

This is a comprehensive step-by-step guide to creating beautiful gardens, including all the basics of planting, growing, and caring for trees, shrubs, flowers, fruits, vegetables, lawns and other greenery. This book has plenty of clear and explanatory full-color photographs, and it gives beginners the inspiration and simple guidance they need.

 

Better Homes and Gardens Gardening Made Simple

 

Just In Case

If you are going out to the garden alone, you should have access to either a cell phone or a medical alert system. Doing so will ensure that you can get the necessary assistance if you fall or feel like you may be suffering from any ailment caused by the heat.

Example: This Senior Help Dialer system has no contract or monthly fees, and comes with a panic button unit for your wrist and neck. If you get into trouble, it instantly calls up to 3 phone numbers and plays your personalized emergency message. It’s water proof and pacemaker safe.

 

Final Thoughts

Gardening provides many mental and physical benefits for seniors. Not only is it a great way to stay active and get outside, but gardening can improve overall mobility, dexterity and reduce stress.

Creating a garden can turn into one of your favorite hobbies and can even improve the way you eat if you can grow fresh fruits and vegetables of your own. You will feel motivated and encouraged by the progress of your plants and will also feel better physically.

Sticking to good safety habits in the process will help to ensure that you can enjoy your garden for many years.  Follow these simple tips to ensure that you or your elderly loved one can garden safely and enjoy their time.

 

 

Thanks for visiting and reading …

I hope this article provided you some inspiration to get out in the dirt.  I welcome your comments below.

 

-Laurie

 

P.S.  For an excellent selection of anything and everything you need to get gardening (and things you didn’t know you needed!), check out  Amazon’s Gardening Products!

 

 

 

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The Best Elliptical Machines Reviewed

 

The Best Elliptical Machines Reviewed

The Best Elliptical Machines Reviewed

How to Find the Perfect Elliptical Machine for a Safe, Quiet, Low Impact Workout

 

An elliptical machine provides a workout that resembles a combination of walking (or running) and climbing in place. Ellipticals feature oversized pedals that move with the motion of your legs.

Many people like ellipticals because they are easier on the joints than walking outside on a hard surface or running on a treadmill. You can go as fast or slow as you’d like on an elliptical machine, and in either forward or reverse to vary your workout. In addition to giving you a great cardio workout, most ellipticals have moving handlebars that provide full-body resistance as you pedal in place. One great feature of a home elliptical is that it is very quiet, so you won’t disturb your downstairs neighbor — a big plus for apartment dwellers.

(Example Image aboveNordictrack Spacesaver SE9i Elliptical Trainer)

 

Full Size Elliptical Machines

 

Full-sized ellipticals offer a range of workout options, from intense to easy, as well as the ability to work your upper body and lower body; some even offer the option to isolate the upper body (most allow you to isolate the lower body). Many also feature plenty of nice touches — like LED screens, cup holders, tablet rests, fans and more — to make your exercise session a bit more pleasant. Some even offer Bluetooth connectivity so you can sync your workout with your smartphone and various fitness apps.

 

Compact and Portable Elliptical Machines

 

If you simply don’t have the space for a full-sized elliptical, we found a couple of very highly-rated home ellipticals that give you a great workout, but have a relatively small footprint — some are even small enough to tote to the office. One drawback is that these elliptical machines are designed to have one, relatively low-intensity workout level. However, users who are just trying to move more, who describe themselves as “un-athletic” or who simply want an easier workout love them.

To find the best home ellipticals, I looked at a few important factors: Smooth, stable and quiet performance; easy-to-use features and controls; long-term durability and reliability; and a good warranty backed by responsive, helpful customer service. Consumer Reports is the only credible professional organization I spotted that tests and ranks ellipticals, but there are some other good expert sources that review individual ellipticals.

Most importantly, I evaluated hundreds of customer reviews to gauge owners’ satisfaction with the features and usability of their home elliptical machines. This information, along with expert evaluations, led me to finding the best ellipticals for any home fitness regimen.

 

What You Should Look For in an Elliptical Machine

 

  • A heavy flywheel. In general the heavier the flywheel, the smoother the motion. Look for one that weighs 25 pounds or more.
  • Enough resistance levels. To maximize your training, the elliptical must progress with you as you get more fit. Most ellipticals have at least 16 levels of resistance; higher-end models have 20 or 22 levels to choose from.
  • Quiet magnetic braking. Almost every full-sized modern elliptical uses magnetic braking for resistance. The mechanism should adjust smoothly and quietly between resistance levels, with no clunking or jerking.
  • Appropriate stride length. The actual feel of any given stride length can vary between brands and models but, as a general rule, the longer the better, especially if you’re tall.
  • Adjustable stride length. You can get by without this feature but if several people of different sizes are going to use the elliptical, it can make everyone’s workout more comfortable.
  • Adjustable incline. Changing the incline serves two purposes at once: altering your stride length and shifting the workout focus to different muscle groups, lending more variety to your workout.
  • Comfortable handlebars. Make sure the handlebars, moving or stationary, feel comfortable when you hold onto them and pedal; it’s hard to exercise when you feel awkward. This is a common complaint with elliptical users who end up unhappy with their machines.
  • Easy-to-use controls. Resistance and incline should be easy to control from the center console or moving handlebars. Ideally, you shouldn’t have to stop the workout to make adjustments.
  • Strong warranty and solid customer service. The warranty should cover parts for at least five years and labor for at least one. The manufacturer should be easy to reach, and quick to respond to consumer complaints.

 

Things to Consider Before Shopping for Your Elliptical

 

Does it fit my available space?

A typical full-sized elliptical is about 79 inches long by 30 inches wide by 63 inches tall, and many front-drive ellipticals require additional clearance to the rear when in use. Don’t forget to measure your ceiling height, too; most ellipticals will add an extra 1.5 feet to your own height. If you have less space, you may want to consider a compact or portable elliptical.

 

Does it fit me?

If you’re especially tall or short, look for an elliptical with a longer or shorter stride length. That said, the only way to know how well any stride length suits you is to get on the machine and exercise for a few minutes. Is the motion comfortable? Do you have plenty of room for your limbs (knees and elbows especially) within the elliptical trainer’s frame? If not, look elsewhere. Comfort is key.

 

Who will use it?

If more than one person is going to use the elliptical, everybody should try it out. If the users are of very different sizes, you may need an elliptical trainer with an adjustable stride length to comfortably accommodate all of them.

 

Should I have it delivered or assembled?

When you pick up or receive your elliptical, it will arrive in one or more large, heavy boxes. Often the shippers will deliver boxes to the curb, but won’t bring them into your house unless you pay an extra fee for “inside” delivery. If you’re handy, patient, and able to get the elliptical into your home on your own (even if that means carrying it piece-by-piece), DIY assembly can be a viable, but time-consuming, option. If you don’t have the time or patience to mess with it, consider paying for a professional delivery and assembly service (typically about $100 to $200).

 

How often will I use the elliptical trainer?

If you’re committed to long, frequent workout sessions, it pays to invest in a machine with the highest build quality and the most durable parts.

 

Do I want movable handlebars?

Although movable handlebars provide a moderate upper-body cardio workout, many exercisers prefer holding onto the stationary handlebars instead. If you’re in the latter group, you can sometimes save money by opting for an elliptical that comes without moving handlebars.

 

Elliptical Machine Reviews and Recommendations

 

 

Best Home Elliptical Machine

 

The Sole Fitness E95 Elliptical’s super-smooth ride, sturdy frame, auto-adjust incline ramp and extensive warranty make it hard to beat. It’s also a great value compared to other high-end ellipticals, which typically sell for much more. Its eddy current braking system is quiet and dependable, the heavy flywheel makes for a smooth ride, and owners largely have good things to say about Sole’s customer service.

Of all the ellipticals I evaluated, the front-drive Sole Fitness E95 Elliptical  boasts the best combination of stability; durability; useful features; smooth, quiet resistance; and affordability. It’s a top pick at Consumer Reports, with Excellent ratings for ease of use, heart rate features and safety; Very Good ratings for ergonomics, exercise range and construction. AT Fitness Equipment Source it gets 4.5 stars out of 5, with the experts there calling it “Sold, Stable & Rugged – A Winning Combination.” Users agree, saying it feels very solid, like a gym-quality elliptical. Many say that they, and sometimes other members of their family, use it every day, multiple times a day.

The Sole E95 offers 20 levels of eddy current braking — the gold standard for quiet operation and reliability — and is backed by a solid warranty: Lifetime frame coverage, five years on parts, and two years of labor coverage. Sole Fitness has an excellent reputation for customer service; owners say they’re prompt, efficient, and honor their warranty with no hassles.

The Sole E95 also has a plethora of useful features, including an incline ramp that power-adjusts between 0 and 40 degrees (adjusting the stride length between 20 and 22 inches); 10 workout programs, including two custom workouts and two heart rate control workouts; cushioned, adjustable foot pedals that angle slightly inward to reduce stress on your joints; a 9-inch LCD console that tilts for easier viewing; and handgrip controls for easy adjustments to both incline and resistance. Users say the built-in sound system and fan are just adequate — but we see similar feedback for those features on almost every elliptical — indeed, on almost every piece of home exercise equipment we review. The Sole 95 is also Bluetooth-enabled, so you can wirelessly sync your exercise stats with your smartphone and a variety of fitness apps.

 

Best Mid-Priced Elliptical Machine

 

It’s a bit lighter than its big sibling, the Sole E95, but the less-expensive Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical is equally praised by reviewers for its quality build and durable components. It has a slightly smaller LCD screen, but its 30-degree incline and a plethora of adjustments and programs earn a lot of praise. Owners love the great value this machine represents, saying it’s a club-quality elliptical at a price that’s very reasonable.

The Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical shares the same excellent build quality and warranty, and almost all of the same features — including the 2017 Bluetooth upgrade. The LCD screen is a little smaller (7.5 inches), the max incline is a little lower (30 degrees), and the flywheel is a little lighter (29 pounds instead of 34). It’s also got just a bit smaller footprint and a lower upper weight limit — 375 pounds to the E95’s 400 pounds. However, the E35 gets just as good of reviews from experts and owners for performance and features.

At Fitness Equipment Source the Sole 35 earns a 4.5-star rating, as well as a Best Buy designation. They note that it’s one of the lowest- maintenance machines you can get at any price range. John Carlzon at Top Ten Reviews puts the Sole 35 at number four on his top ten list after research and testing, saying it, “gives a smooth and substantial workout.” The only con he notes is that there are only 10 preset workouts. Owners agree with Carlsen, giving the Sole 35 above-average ratings and saying they’re very pleased with the build quality and the various workout options.

That’s not to say that the Sole E95 and Sole E35 are perfect. The most common complaint we found for both was occasional squeaking or clicking noises from the foot rails. Most users say lubricating the foot rails will resolve this, while others simply let Sole’s excellent service department take care of it. These ellipticals also require assembly — unless you pay for assembly on delivery. While assembly is not necessarily super difficult, it is time-consuming and there are lots of parts to keep track of — some of which are rather heavy. Assembly is much easier, users say, if you get organized first, take your time, and enlist the help of a friend.

 

Best Inexpensive Home Elliptical Machine

 

 

For most people, the Schwinn 470 elliptical will be a good fit for their exercise room without making their wallet lose too much weight. Reviewers say it’s stable and quiet, with 25 levels of eddy current braking. Included in its impressive array of features are 29 programs, including options for beginners to advanced users and a customizable setting. The 470’s 20-inch stride length, smooth operation and a decent warranty combine to make the Schwinn 470 an excellent value if you’re on a budget.

Bargain-priced ellipticals tend to have short, choppy strides, but the front-drive Schwinn’s 20-inch stride length is the equal of many high-end home ellipticals. It has 25 levels of eddy current resistance (another great feature for the price), and users say the motion is smooth and stable, even for larger users — its maximum weight capacity is 300 pounds. You can also create up to four user programs, something that impresses the folks at Top Ten Reviews.  

At Consumer Reports the Schwinn 470 earns ratings of Very Good across the board for ergonomics, exercise range, ease of use, construction, heart rate features and user safety. It’s also named a Best Buy there. It’s the number five pick (out of 10) and Top Ten Reviews, but their review is disappointingly devoid of testing notes, even though they say they tested for this roundup. Rather, they call out the 470’s features for praise, and there are plenty of those.

That includes 29 preset workout programs, with custom programs available as well. The display is fairly small, but still a nice touch at this price point. It displays time, distance, speed, calories burned, resistance level and more.

There are 29 preset programs, as well as the ability to design four custom programs. The automated inclined adjusts up to 10 degrees. A three-speed fan is also a nice touch to keep the user comfortable.

The Schwinn 470 is compatible with a chest strap-style heart monitor, but one is not included.  I like the Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor and Fitness Tracker.

 

 

The Schwinn 470 also has a USB port for data export to Schwinn Connect and MyFitnessPal.com — online tools to help users upload and track their workout data and fitness goals; the USB port can also be used for charging your portable gadgets.

 

Best Compact Elliptical Machine

 

The Sunny Air Walk Trainer is as highly rated as ellipticals costing much more, but is lighter and much more compact. It does not have the bells and whistles of a full sized, high-end exercise machine, but most say that it provides all you need if you just want an effective, low-impact exercise option. Owners note that it’s very quiet and is uncommonly comfortable to use.

 

Best Portable Elliptical Machine

 

 

Reviewers say the Stamina In-Motion Elliptical may take some getting used to, but once you do, you’ll love it. It’s little more than a set of wheels you pedal, but it’s extremely portable and many dedicated exercisers take it to work, on trips, or keep it in their dorm rooms.

 

 

You can adjust the tension to control workout intensity, and use it standing or sitting, in forward or reverse to add variety.  The Stamina In-Motion also has an electronic fitness monitor which displays the number of strides per minute, total number of strides, exercise time, and calories burned.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

Elliptical training combines the best of stair climbing, cross country skiing and running in a low impact, variety rich workout.  Runners will benefit from the non-impact movement as a complement to their running and older users will appreciate the fluidity and ease of the motion.  It is a highly effective cross training activity that is viable for anyone from beginning exercisers to elite athletes.

 

 

Thanks for visiting and reading … I hope this article provided you some helpful ideas.  I welcome your comments below.

-Laurie

 

 

 

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