Older people make up a considerable proportion of Australia’s population—in 2017, over 1 in 7 people were aged 65 and over. With the life expectancy age in Australia currently estimated between 85-89, 15% of Australia’s population is made up of seniors.
Yes, age is just a number, and you’re only as old as you feel. Unfortunately, your body doesn’t always stay on track with this theory. Getting older means getting used to changes in your body, both physical and mental. Although we can’t stop the effects of ageing, staying physically, mentally and socially active has shown to be significantly beneficially to your health in your golden years.
Lawn Bowls is the number one sport among seniors in Australia. Currently, there are more than 2,000 registered Lawn Bowls Clubs across the country with an estimated 300,000 regular players over the age of 65.
Health professionals agree that playing Lawn Bowls provides a number of health benefits including;
- Improving fitness
- Improving coordination and skill development
- Increasing confidence and self-esteem
- Enhancing mental wellbeing
- Promoting community connectedness and support
With age, bone density, joint cartilage and connective tissue slowly diminish — which weakens them and makes them more susceptible to breakage, stiffness and pain. Muscle strength and flexibility also lessens, which may affect coordination and balance.
The regular and systematic movements of playing lawn bowls offers mild exercise without causing undue fatigue. More specifically, the physical contraction of the leg and arm muscles compress the veins and helps pump blood back to the heart and lungs. Also, healthy muscular fatigue encourages normal sleep and rest. Finally, there is mounting scientific evidence that active muscular metabolism over the years plays a significant role in delaying or preventing the clinical signs of hardening of the arteries.
Combining the physical attributes of playing lawn bowls with the social aspect the sport can increase feelings for happiness and belonging, in turn aiding in maintaining healthy brain function. Lawn bowls is close to the perfect sport for seniors.
However, the repetitive motions required to play lawn bowls such as lifting and bending can cause excessive pressure on knee’s, shoulders and the lower back. This pressure may then cause the joints to become inflamed.
Inflammation is a defence mechanism in the body. The immune system recognises damaged cells or irritants, and it begins the healing process. When something harmful or irritating affects a part of our body, there is a biological response to try to remove it. This inflammatory response is generally referred to as acute inflammation, and although the symptoms can be uncomfortable, it is a sign that the body is trying to heal itself.
Acute inflammation may present itself as;
- Pain – The inflamed area is likely to be painful, especially during and after touching.
- Redness – This occurs because the capillaries in the area are filled with more blood.
- Immobility – There may be some loss of function in the region of the inflammation.
- Swelling – This is caused by a build-up of fluid.
- Heat – More blood flows to the affected area, which makes the area warmer.
Research has linked inflammation with a number of health issues, the most common being arthritis. From mild arthritis to rheumatoid to osteo, inflammation is believed to be the main causative factor. Reducing inflammation within the body is key to living an active, healthy, pain-free life.
In recent years, Australia has seen a significant rise in seniors incorporating complementary and alternative medicines to their health regimes. This may be due to the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation being the first to embrace natural therapies, health foods and supplements. Now that the boomer generation is reaching their senior years, they are again, embracing the availability of alternative medicines.
Many herbs and spices possess natural anti-inflammatory properties, one of the most popular is Turmeric. Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years as an anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, liver detoxifier and digestive aid. Within the last three years, the popularity of Turmeric as a natural alternative to pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories has risen significantly, and for good cause.
Studies have shown that the active curcuminoid compounds found within the Turmeric root, isn’t only a potent anti-inflammatory but also very high in antioxidants. With the increase in studies being conducted, many health professionals are recommending Turmeric and/or Curcumin as a complementary supplement. One shortfall, however, is that curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream naturally. Therefore it needs to be combined with a ‘heat-spice’ such as black pepper to increase the bio-availability. Research has shown that the absorption rate of curcumin into the bloodstream can be increased by up to 2000% when combined with piperine (black pepper).
Another natural supplement that many seniors are turning to is Magnesium. Magnesium is crucial to nerve transmission, blood coagulation, muscle recovery and energy production. Sadly, many of us simply don’t get enough magnesium in our bodies to the point that we unknowingly suffer from a magnesium deficiency.
There isn’t a secret to being a healthy and active senior. Combining mild psychical activity, such as lawn bowls, natural alternative medicines, such as Turmeric, and social interactions can help to improve all aspects of senior life. All three of these key elements have shown to improve cognitive functioning, physical strength and promote healthy body functions.
Please note: This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results may vary from individual to individual.