Cardiovascular Training

To reap all the ben­e­fits car­dio­vas­cu­lar exer­cise (walk­ing, cycling, swim­ming etc.) can pro­vide, you need to be sure that your fit­ness rou­tine is pro­vid­ing you with the right num­ber of METs. Group walk

METs are the rate at which our bod­ies use oxy­gen (meta­bolic equiv­a­lents). If you accu­mu­late >15 METs every week, then you get sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits in terms of fight­ing can­cer. Stud­ies have shown as lit­tle as 9 MET/hrs of phys­i­cal activ­ity over a seven day period increases sur­vival rate for breast and bowel cancers.

Your fit­ness level has a direct impact on how many METS you expend per minute. So let’s say it take you 16 min­utes to walk a mile, your pace is 3.75 miles per hour, which cor­re­sponds to 4.3 METs per hour. If you walk 3 ½ hours over a seven day period you will accu­mu­late 15 METs for your week.

I will be giv­ing exer­cise and nutri­tion talks for patients, fam­i­lies, sur­vivors and health pro­fes­sion­als dur­ing breast can­cer aware­ness month as part of my pro-active edu­ca­tional pro­grammes  One of these talks will take place Thurs­day, 16 Octo­ber 7:30pm–9:00pm at Good Coun­sel G.A.A. Club Davitt Road, Drim­nagh, Dublin 12.  This event is spe­cial for me because it takes place in my own home town.

Hope to see lots of famil­iar faces :)

FREE EVENTALL WELCOME Marie Murphy_Breast Can­cer Aware­ness Month_Save the date

Nutrition & Cancer

Healthy SaladA good can­cer diet is sim­i­lar to a can­cer pre­ven­tion diet. The main dif­fer­ences are that peo­ple under­go­ing chemother­apy may have higher nutri­tional needs and poor appetites. It is very impor­tant to eat the most nutri­tious foods you can get. A diet that is high in veg­eta­bles, fruits, whole grains, beans, fish, and low in fat, high in fibre is can­cer protective.

Can­cer treat­ments may decrease appetite and lower the abil­ity to digest food which may inter­fere with the body’s abil­ity to absorb and use nutri­ents. Focus should be placed on get­ting enough calo­ries to keep up strength and eat­ing a healthy a diet as pos­si­ble to boost the immune sys­tem to help deal with pos­si­ble nutri­tional deficiencies.

Think of the Irish Flag ‘plenty of green, white and orange fruits & veg­eta­bles. Make sure your diet con­tains plenty of low-fat pro­tein, such as cold-water fish (salmon, sar­dines, and mack­erel) beans, and white meat chicken or turkey.

Pro­tein rebuilds mus­cle and tis­sue which is par­tic­u­larly impor­tant when your body has under­gone chemother­apy, surgery and radi­a­tion. Good fat such as olive oil and omega 3 oils includ­ing flax seed oil and fish oil are impor­tant, while processed fats and oils, such as Trans & hydro­genated fats in mar­garines and fats used for bak­ing should be avoided.

Keep well

Ireland’s 2014 Report Card

Based on the results from Ireland’s 2014 Report Card on phys­i­cal activ­ity in chil­dren and youth, phys­i­cal activ­ity lev­els remain low in Ireland.Running on sand dunes

  • Over­all Phys­i­cal Activ­ity Lev­els D–
  • Orga­nized Sport Par­tic­i­pa­tion C–
  • Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion D–

The esti­mated con­tri­bu­tion of phys­i­cal inac­tiv­ity to the bur­den of dis­ease in Ire­land was esti­mated at 8.8% for coro­nary heart dis­ease, 10.9% for type 2 dia­betes, 15.2% for breast can­cer, and 15.7% for colon cancer.

To see change in these types of sta­tis­tics we need to have Phys­i­cal Activ­ity part of our National Schools cur­ricu­lum.  All chil­dren and youth should have the oppor­tu­nity of a ‘qual­ity’ expe­ri­ence of school-based phys­i­cal activ­ity and sport.  At least 4 hours/week of sport and phys­i­cal activ­ity dur­ing school PE would be acceptable.

Dur­ing my eigh­teen years coach­ing high school track & field and cross coun­try in Cal­i­for­nia; stu­dents join­ing my team first needed to pass the ACSM’s (Amer­i­can Col­lege of Sports Med­i­cine) guide­lines in pre­ven­tion. If they did not pass first time out they trained with the team until they accom­plished the goal and then they com­peted for their school.  At the same time I had con­cerns for the stu­dents who did not par­tic­i­pate; who I knew at 15–17 years of age were not in a state of pre­ven­tion of dis­ease. It took five years in gath­er­ing data on my teams before my school changed its cur­ricu­lum and phys­i­cal activ­ity became mandatory.

We have many of these types of stu­dents here in Ire­land that need to meet the rec­om­mended guide­lines for low­er­ing their risks later in life.  It is up to us to give our chil­dren and youth the best pos­si­ble out­look for their future.  As we all know Health is our Wealth

Let’s get moving!



Breast Cancer Awareness: 10 Tips in Starting an Exercise Programme after Treatment


1. Get clear­ance from your Doc­tor before start­ing any fit­ness programme

2. Have a qual­i­fied Fit­ness Instruc­tor design/guide your fit­ness programme

3. Walk a min­i­mum of 3 days a week (advanc­ing to 5 days)

4. Incor­po­rate resis­tance train­ing 1 day a week (advanc­ing to 2 days)

5. Set a goal of 15 weeks to main­tain con­sis­tency and see improve­ments in your fitness

6. Aim to achieve 15–20 MET/hrs/week within one year of start­ing your programme


5–10 MET/hrs/week 1–4 monthsIMAG0290

10–15 MET/hrs/week 5–8 months

15–20 MET/hrs/week 9–12 months

7. Eat a healthy diet: high in fruits, veg­eta­bles, whole grains, beans, low in fat and high in fibre

8. Drink a min­i­mum 1.5 litres of water a day (water is the most impor­tant nutrient)

9. Keep a record of your train­ing to see your improve­ments and moti­vate you

10. A lit­tle a lot, is bet­ter than, a lot a lit­tle.  (To do some­thing often you have to enjoy what it is you are doing)

How to avoid fatigue during training

Glass of water plus jug

Your daily intake will have a big impact on how you feel. With­out a proper, bal­anced diet you can start to feel slug­gish and are likely to become fatigued– so ensure that you eat healthy meals at the cor­rect times as well as fuel­ing before, dur­ing and after your workouts.

Poor hydra­tion can adversely affect your men­tal as well as your phys­i­cal per­for­mance. Stay­ing hydrated helps pre­vent tired­ness as well as lower your risk of injury. Have a water bot­tle within arm’s reach at all times.

To avoid tired­ness ensure you get enough sleep. Your body needs sleep to recharge and allow you to con­tinue with your train­ing sched­ule as well as repair and rebuild your muscles.

Caf­feine can cause rest­less­ness and sleep­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. Cut­ting down on the amount of caf­feine you drink in the evening will help avoid a rest­less night’s sleep.

Stress is one of the most com­mon rea­sons for feel­ing tired — so the most impor­tant thing to do is iden­tify what is caus­ing your stress in the first place. Tak­ing a few days off or using dif­fer­ent mus­cle groups, can make a big dif­fer­ence to your over­all energy levels.

Fatigue is usu­ally a tem­po­rary sit­u­a­tion brought on by over­do­ing it on a par­tic­u­lar day or group of days. Good lifestyle choices that include a healthy diet, exer­cise, and sleep man­age­ment should elim­i­nate long-term tired­ness, but if fatigue per­sists then seek advice from your doctor.

Exercise & Nutrition Workshop

This past week I was asked to deliver a work­shop on Exer­cise & Nutri­tion for teach­ers of SICCDA’s After­school Pro­grammes which pro­vide daily after­school child­care to approx­i­mately 150 chil­dren liv­ing in the Lib­er­ties area of Dublin 8.

picture of woman's feet walking

Their pro­grammes pro­vide par­tic­i­pants with home­work sup­port, nutri­tious snacks and enrich­ing extra-curricular activ­i­ties in a warm, car­ing, child-centred envi­ron­ment. Camps dur­ing school hol­i­days pro­vide par­tic­i­pants with fun, mean­ing­ful activ­i­ties which pro­vide con­ti­nu­ity for chil­dren, and facil­i­tate child­care needs.

The six­teen teach­ers who attended my work­shop oper­ated from the fol­low­ing schools;

  • Scoil San Sea­mus CBS, Basin Lane
  • St Enda’s National School, White­friar Street
  • Fran­cis Street CBS, Fran­cis Street
  • War­ren­mount Pri­mary School
  • Scoil Treasa Naofa

It was a very pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence engag­ing with the teach­ers over the course of the day. They found learn­ing about the METs very inter­est­ing. All teach­ers took part in doing a fit­ness eval­u­a­tion (1 mile walk) to see how their own fit­ness level mea­sured up to the guide­lines for pre­ven­tion of dis­ease. The sun was shin­ing as we walked along the canal from Basin Lane to Rialto Bridge; all com­plet­ing the course within 14 to18 min­utes. So if see a large group of chil­dren walk­ing briskly along the canal over the com­ing weeks you’ll know teach­ers are mea­sur­ing their METs.

Changing our exercise routine

It’s a good idea to change your exer­cise rou­tines because your mus­cles get bored with the same repet­i­tive exercises.

As an ath­lete I’ve spent a great num­ber of hours run­ning.  One of the key ele­ments to my train­ing is keep­ing a vari­ety to work­outs.  When trav­el­ling I gen­er­ally stay at hotels that accom­mo­date a gym.  Not that I use the gym on every occa­sion but I like the idea of hav­ing the choice.

Marie in Co.Clare small

Check­ing out the weights in my hotel.

I recently trav­elled to Co. Clare and while I spent most of my time out­doors sight­see­ing I did avail of the gym in the evening.  I changed my mode of exer­cise to the Stair Climber machine, and decreased the dura­tion which allowed increas­ing my intensity.

I fol­lowed the climber by doing free weights, a shorter ver­sion of my reg­u­lar rou­tine fin­ish­ing off with light stretch­ing before head­ing to relax in the Jacuzzi.

By chang­ing things up, you stim­u­late mus­cle growth. Mus­cles get jump-started by new rou­tines and you’ll see dif­fer­ences immediately.


You dis­cover an entire range of new exer­cises when you change your rou­tine, which also keeps you from get­ting bored.With the Easter break here take the oppor­tu­nity to change your exer­cise rou­tine and feel the benefits!

Working Towards a Healthier Diet

When it comes to eat­ing healthy, los­ing weight or main­tain­ing your cur­rent weight, you are more likely to be suc­cess­ful if you make small changes over time rather than chang­ing your entire diet all at once. The long term goal is to feel good, have more energy, and reduce the risk of can­cer and dis­ease.  Here are a few sim­ple changes you can do to work towards a health­ier diet.

Start Your Day with a Good Breakfast

A nutri­tious break­fast gets you fuelled for the day and helps pre­vent you from bing­ing later in the day. Easy-to-prepare break­fasts include cold cereal with fruit and low-fat milk, whole-wheat toast with scram­bled eggs, yogurt with fruit, or por­ridge with raisins.

Eat Plenty of Whole Grains, Fruits & Veg­eta­bles Red and Green Apples
Try brown rice instead of white rice and whole wheat pasta instead of reg­u­lar pasta. Aim for five serv­ings of fruits and veg­eta­bles each day.  A cup of salad counts as one veg­etable, so try eat­ing a salad with either lunch or din­ner (choose low-calorie, low-fat or fat free dress­ing options).

Stay Hydrated Through­out Your Day

A reg­u­lar fluid intake from our daily diet is cru­cial to main­tain good health.  Even if your goal is to lose weight, los­ing it through dehy­dra­tion isn’t the way to go. Your body needs flu­ids to func­tion and dehy­dra­tion leads to other health prob­lems. The aver­age per­son needs to drink about 2L (8 glasses) of water a day. Keep in mind if you drink cof­fee (or other heav­ily caf­feinated drinks such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi) you should add an extra glass of water for every glass you have.

Choose Lean Cuts of Meat and Poultry

For poul­try, the lean­est choice is white meat from skin­less breast of chicken or turkey. If choos­ing beef, look for sir­loin, ten­der­loin or round and if opt­ing for pork try ten­der­loin or loin chops.

Try Lower– Calorie/Fat Ver­sions of Your Favourite Foods

Don’t assume that you have to give up your favourite food like mash pota­toes, when you’re try­ing to eat health­ier or lose weight. As an alter­na­tive use lower-calorie ingre­di­ents or pre­pare it dif­fer­ently. For exam­ple, if your mash pota­toes use whole milk and but­ter try remak­ing it with skim milk and a reduced serv­ing of butter.

Watch Your Por­tion Sizes

Stan­dard por­tion sizes may actu­ally be smaller than you think. For exam­ple, one serv­ing size of pasta or rice is equal to one half-cup and four ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of cards.  Putting smaller amounts of food on your plate or using smaller plates is help­ful (the more food in front of you, the more likely you are to eat it because it’s there).

Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand

It’s impor­tant to make healthy snacks avail­able, espe­cially when you’re at work, have a busy sched­ule or exer­cis­ing. Keep­ing healthy snacks, such as fruits, veg­gies, gra­nola, or low-fat yogurt, on hand will pre­vent you from head­ing to the vend­ing machine or fast food restau­rant for an unhealthy snack.    

10 Minute Fitness Workout

Get mov­ing with this 10 minute workout

Are you look­ing to ease into get­ting in shape? This 10 minute resis­tance train­ing rou­tine can start you on the path to bet­ter health. But before start­ing this train­ing plan, talk with your doc­tor if you’ve been seden­tary for a long time or you have seri­ous health issues.

The 10 exer­cises below (5 upper & 5 lower body) are an intro­duc­tion to the Mur­phy (MET’s) Pro­gramme. When start­ing this train­ing plan you first need to learn the proper tech­nique for each exer­cise. Choose weights that are light enough that you can lift 10 rep­e­ti­tions for each exer­cise (exam­ple 500ml water bot­tles or 2 cans of Heinz soup).

The first 3–6 weeks you are con­di­tion­ing your body, work­ing on bring­ing each mus­cle group through their full range of motion. Again you are mas­ter­ing the proper tech­nique for each exer­cise. No weights are applied while you are learn­ing the lower body rou­tine.
For best results, try to do this train­ing plan twice a week.

For more infor­ma­tion on the Mur­phy (METs) Pro­gramme please see here or call 085 196 5468 to sched­ule a con­sul­ta­tion with Marie Murphy.

MMP 10 Minute Workout

Older woman holding weights


Resistance Training after Breast Cancer Treatment

Hav­ing a bal­anced body in which our two halves are sym­met­ri­cal is the goal in resis­tance train­ing and even more so after breast can­cer treat­ment. The more sym­met­ri­cal we are the more effi­cient and easy our move­ments become which means less wear and tear is exerted on our bod­ies and we feel bet­ter because we are balanced.

A sym­met­ri­cal body is also less prone to injury.  A par­tic­u­lar mus­cle group will be less likely to com­pen­sate for a weaker mus­cle group, thus over­bur­den­ing that mus­cle group while fur­ther weak­en­ing and poten­tially injur­ing, the under-developed mus­cle group, if the weaker mus­cle group is bal­anced with the stronger grouping.

Breast can­cer sur­vivors can find them­selves out of bal­ance.  In many cases their pec­toralis (chest mus­cle) and latis­simus dorsi (back mus­cle) have been inter­fered with through radi­a­tion, treat­ment and surgery.  If the imbal­ance is not cor­rected or improved upon it may cause more prob­lems down the road along with the added risk and/or side effect of lym­phoedema. In addi­tion, the appro­pri­ate ratio of both strength and flex­i­bil­ity in oppos­ing mus­cle groups is of vital impor­tance to a breast can­cer survivor.

The best cure for the asym­met­ri­cal body is doing pro­gres­sive resis­tance train­ing using dumb­bells, to be sure that each limb is doing its equal share of work.  Dumb­bell exer­cises allow you to work each major mus­cle indi­vid­u­ally so that the stronger one can’t pick up the slack.  When train­ing with dumb­bells a breast can­cer sur­vivor will put their con­cen­tra­tion on the weaker arm and the weaker arm will lead the exer­cise. Free weights (dumb­bells) will allow a greater adap­ta­tion to train­ing and lower the risk of injury due to you con­trol­ling the weight and not the weight con­trol­ling you.

Devel­op­ing a sym­met­ri­cal body entails focus­ing on all mus­cle groups equally through the work of a vari­ety of exer­cises. The Mur­phy (METs) Pro­gramme uses all ten major mus­cles of the upper body; pec­toralis major & minor, latis­simus dorsi, bra­chio­ra­di­alis biceps, tri­ceps, ante­rior del­toids, medial & pos­te­rior del­toids, trapez­ius upper & lower and obliques.  Empha­sis is placed on devel­op­ing a bal­anced physique.

The great­est ben­e­fits in doing resis­tance train­ing with dumb­bells is that the weight is divided into each hand sep­a­rately so that the weaker arm has no choice but to lift, pull or push the weight that is selected for each spe­cific exer­cise. Breast can­cer sur­vivors who lifts weights by using gym equip­ment, machine, bar­bell, pul­ley etc. and not free weights (dumb­bells); will find that the good arm will com­pen­sate for the weaker arm because they are hold­ing, pulling, push­ing the resis­tance with both hands. The indi­vid­ual who chooses this tech­nique of train­ing will not real­ize they are favour­ing one side over the other and may be at a greater risk of injury.

I have com­pleted three stud­ies for breast can­cer sur­vivors.  All women started their pro­gramme lift­ing either 500ml water bot­tles or 1kg dumb­bell weights (work­ing the ten major mus­cles of the upper body). They did two sets of ten rep­e­ti­tions for each exer­cise, pro­gress­ing to 20 rep­e­ti­tions and lifted a vol­ume of 160kg at the start of their pro­gramme pro­gress­ing to over 1800kg at the end of their pro­gramme.  The for­mat of the Mur­phy (METs) Pro­gramme allows the indi­vid­ual to safely work towards bring­ing all mus­cle groups into line.  When this is done, sym­me­try is achieved.

Note: The Mur­phy (METs) Pro­gramme: The Irish Expe­ri­ence of Deliv­er­ing Phys­i­cal Activ­ity for Can­cer Sur­vivors was acknowl­edged by the Amer­i­can Insti­tute of Can­cer Research (AICR) 2012.