Inactive seniors face risks

TOM EDWARDSBusselton Dunsborough Times
Inactive seniors face risks
Camera IconInactive seniors face risks Credit: Busselton Dunsborough Times

Seniors are at risk of chronic health issues due to inactive lifestyles, a Busselton doctor has warned.

The Department of Health’s latest Overview and Trends Report shows only 40 per cent of West Australians over 65 are sufficiently active for good health.

The report shows people over 65 faced significantly greater risk of chronic health conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Busselton Health Study director Michael Hunter said the Busselton Healthy Ageing Study had found a striking number of older people with multiple risk factors for chronic disease, in line with national findings.

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“Some of the common health problems emerging from the current BHAS are in many cases directly related to poor lifestyle choices, such as physical inactivity, poor nutrition and risky alcohol intake, ” Dr Hunter said.

“We are seeing high rates of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, increased risk of osteoporosis and sleep apnoea.”

Dr Hunter said many of these conditions could be improved or avoided by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, weight loss and good nutrition.

Forty-four per cent of BHAS participants were overweight, 30 per cent were obese, 53 per cent had allergies, 17 per cent had cardiovascular disease and 23 per cent suffered from depression or anxiety.

“Men have higher prevalence of risk factors that are contributors to a range of chronic diseases,” Dr Hunter said.

“As a group, they have higher levels of obesity, high blood pressure, risky alcohol intake, inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption and smoke more than women.”

Busselton Senior Citizens’ Centre manager Bruce Thiel said engaging men in organised healthy activities was challenging.

The centre has about 800 members but there are about four women to every man.

Fitness classes, including Konga and Zumba, are among the centre’s most popular activities, but are almost exclusively attended by women.

“I think masculinity comes into it a bit — they think it’s a bit sissy, ” Mr Thiel said.

Not only were men missing out on physical exercise, they also missed the opportunity to socialise, he said.

“Friendships are forged in those situations,” he said.

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