Exercise and Cancer

Marie MurphyThere is a growing body of literature that supports the importance of exercise in the prevention of cancer and cancer recurrence. Exercise helps increase lean body mass, reduces fat and decreases the likelihood of weight gain. To lose weight, activity and exercise must be increased. Bodies with more muscle mass require more energy expenditure than bodies with more fat, thus the more muscle you develop, the greater the amount of calories you burn. Any increase in activity and exercise is likely to have benefits and each person must increase their activity at a level that is appropriate for them. If you have been inactive, it may be important to check with your doctor about limitations, and then begin an exercise routine that starts slowly and increases in intensity and duration over a period of time. If you start too hard or too fast, you may injure yourself and stop exercising. Exercise really needs to be viewed as a lifetime process that has physiological and psychological benefits.

Activity is measured based on METs or metabolic equivalent. One MET is defined as the energy it takes to sit quietly for an hour. When at rest, each person uses the same amount of oxygen which is 3.5ml per kilogram per minute. For the average adult, this means that they will burn approximately one calorie for every 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight per hour. A person who weighs 68kg, will burn about 68 calories while at rest. Moderate intensity activities are those that make you move fast or are strenuous enough to burn four to six times as much energy per minute as you do when you are sitting quietly. EilishThese types of exercises would include brisk walking (about 3-4 miles in an hour). Walking is an excellent exercise; however, it is important to do enough of it to increase the number of METs. While the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has determined that people need 4-6 METs five days per week, some exercise research suggests that you need more and it is recommended that people strive for 15-20 METs per week. To figure out how many METs you are using and how to increase it, consider the following;

• Walking 1.6km (1 mile) in 20 minutes = 4 METs/hr, thus you would need to walk 4 hours per week to achieve 16 METS.
• Walking 1.6km (1 mile) in 15 minutes = 5 METs/hr, thus you would need to walk 4 hours per week to achieve 20 METS.

In a 2004 study, women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer who exercised greater than 17.2 METs per week had a greater survival rate compared to women who exercised less than that amount, suggesting that exercise is beneficial both in terms of prevention and survival.

For further information please see:

Murphy METs Programme (Video)

Know your METs for Prevention – Recurrence of Disease

Calculating your weekly METs km-hour

15 weeks Walking Programme

Information for Health Professionals

Effects of Alcohol on Sports Performance

Picture1Anyone who has an interest in playing sports or keeping fit should understand the effects alcohol can have on their performance. Not having a balanced approach to alcohol could be what gets in the way of you reaping the rewards from all the work you’ve put in.

The two main ways alcohol affects the body during exercise are in dehydration and energy;

Dehydration leads to reduced performance.  Because alcohol is a diuretic, which

means it makes your kidneys produce more urine, drinking too much of it can lead to dehydration. Exercising soon after drinking alcohol can make dehydration worse because you sweat as your body temperature rises. Combined, sweating and the diuretic effect of exercise make dehydration along with your body overheating much more likely. You need to be hydrated when you exercise to maintain the flow of blood through your body, which is essential for circulating oxygen and nutrients to your muscles.

Alcohol interferes with the way your body produces energy – When you’re metabolising or breaking down alcohol the liver can’t produce as much glucose, which means you have low levels of blood sugar. Exercise requires high levels of sugar (carbohydrates) to give you energy. If your liver isn’t producing enough glucose you will be slower, have less energy and won’t be able to exercise as intensely along with the added risk of adversely affecting your concentration, coordination, reaction, dexterity etc.

Both of these effects happen immediately which is why it is not advised to exercise or compete in sport soon after drinking alcohol.

Alcoholism/Alcohol abuse causes

  • Nerve disorders
  • Muscle cramps
  • Speeds up ageing
  • Osteoporosis
  • Appetite loss
  • Depression

 Binge drinking can lead to;

  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Increases risk of blood clots
  • Increases risk of stroke

Physical Activity and Living With Cancer

Public talk at Cancer Care West 72 Seamus Quirke Road, Westside, Galway Thursday April 16, at 7.30 pm.

Marie MurphyI will be addressing such topics as the importance of physical activity, side effects of cancer treatment, the importance of resistance training and the role of nutrition. I will also outline the key components of the Murphy (METs) programme, a specialised fitness regime for people living with cancer.

This public talk is free of charge and will be particularly useful to cancer patients who are adapting to living with the illness. Please call Cancer Care West Support Centre at 091 540040 for more details.



Atwater’s Vision: A Healthy Balanced Nutrition

The first published dietary guidelines were written in 1894 by W.O. Atwater.  Atwater initiated the scientific basis for connecting food composition, dietary intake, and health, and emphasized the importance of variety, proportion, and moderation in healthy eating.  It is worth noting that at this time specific vitamins and minerals had not yet been discovered.

In 1902 Atwater stated:

“Unless care is exercised in selecting food, a diet may result which is one-sided or badly balanced-that is, one in which either protein or fuel ingredients (carbohydrate and fat) are provided in excess….The evils of overeating may not be felt at once, but sooner or later they are sure to appear-perhaps in an excessive amount of fatty tissue, perhaps in general debility, perhaps in actual disease.” 

By the 1950s, nutritional guidelines moved to four food groups known as the “Basic Four” with the focus on getting sufficient nutrients.  This concept was widely used for the next two decades.  During the 1990s, the Food Guide Pyramid was released.  The pyramid conveyed key concepts regarding variety, proportionality, and moderation; Atwater’s words repeated ten decades later.Nutrition Chart MMP

Lets get back to basics.  A diet that is high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, fish, and low in fat, high in fibre is cancer protective.

Improving your Health and Fitness in 2015

If you have made a New Year’s resolution to improve your fitness; do more exercise, increase your strength, eat a healthier diet, lose weight then fear not, help is at hand. The following tips will help you feel healthier, fitter and more energised:IMAG1760

  • Getting your METs is Clare Holiday Pictures 220first and foremost!  If time is limited for exercising make cardiovascular exercise your first choice by using the largest muscle groups in a repetitive movement (example; walking, jogging, swimming etc.).
  • Set realistic goals.  If you cannot see yourself holding your exercise routine for a period of 15 weeks then the task is too great.  The average time a person holds an exercise programme is 6-8 weeks; this is too short for life changing benefits.

  • Be consistent, take small steps. Increase time, distance or repetitions of your workouts every 3 weeks.  This allows the body time to adapt to the routine/stress level which makes advancing to a higher level easier and safer.

  • Healthy SaladWhen 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.


For a consultation contact Marie at 085 196 5468 or email marie@mariemurphyhealthfitness.com to place your name on the waiting list for upcoming course.

Staying active over the holiday period

Whilst you may not be able to stick to your nor­mal exer­cise rou­tine over the hol­i­day period, you can still fit some exer­cise in. For exam­ple, if you nor­mally walk out­doors but find the weather too cold, try work­ing out indoors. Walk­ing up and down a flight stairs once is equal to one minute of weight bear­ing exer­cise. 

Merry ChristmasStair climbing is also excel­lent for increas­ing your bone strength (bone den­sity) in your hips; it works on the main mus­cles for walk­ing and is very good for your over­all health. While watch­ing your favourite TV pro­gramme or lis­ten­ing to your favourite radio pro­gramme march­ing on the spot or any form of danc­ing are additional choices.

You may not have an hour to spare to com­plete your reg­u­lar work­out however, short reg­u­lar bursts of activ­ity can help main­tain your fit­ness level and reduce the chance of an extended period of time going by with­out exer­cis­ing (it is always eas­ier to main­tain then to gain back).  5 min­utes walk­ing, jog­ging or march­ing on the spot on and off through­out the day all adds up and con­tributes to bet­ter health.

Lastly, it may be eas­ier to keep to an exer­cise rou­tine when you share it with some­one. Walk with a friend, walk your dog, jog along­side your child while they cycle their new bike from Santa. It’s all about stay­ing active, get­ting your METs and reap­ing the benefits.

Hope you find the above tips help­ful and I would like to wish you a very Merry Christ­mas and Health, Happiness & Prosperity for 2015

Christmas Gift Voucher can be used towards starting the New Year with a personalized training programme.

Post-Marathon Recovery

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen athletes complete a marathon distance usually their thoughts are not focused on the importance of recovery; making the right choices in post-training and nutrition.  Crossing the finishing line participants are mainly excited and relieved that they have finished.

Nutrition and exercise are thoughts many athletes focus on during their training and give little thought to these key elements once the goal has been accomplished. Yet the only way to reap the benefits from our efforts of running a marathon is to do the right things following the event.

Also, athletes who have not taken the proper steps seem to never want to run another marathon or worse yet never return to regular exercise. To avoid this happening to you, here are some tips on how to gain strengths from your accomplishments and enjoy many more marathons in the future.

Please see Post-Marathon Recovery and Nutritional Guidelines


Upper Extremity Rehabilitation Guidelines

The primary treatments for breast cancer (surgery, radiation, chemotherapy) continue to lead to significant morbidity for many individuals diagnosed with this disease.  A number of physical impairments commonly result from treatments designed to save or prolong the lives of those affected.  These include impairments of upper extremity range of motion and strength, upper extremity and/or breast lymphedema, pain, fatigue, loss of sensation, and reduction in levels of physical activity and health-related quality of life.

Older woman holding weightsThe following 5 tips can help lower risk of impairments:

  1. Gentle range of motion exercises the first week after surgery.
  2. Active stretching exercises 1 week after surgery, or when the drain has been removed.
  3. Active stretching exercises continued for 6-8 weeks or until full range of motion is achieved in the affected upper extremity.
  4. Progressive resistance training can begin with light weights (0.5-1kg) within 4-6 weeks after surgery.
  5. Postoperative assessments should occur regularly up to 1 year after surgery.

This information is in line with the Institute of Medicine report ‘Clinical Practice Guidelines We Can Trust’.

For further information on how you can start a progressive resistance training programme early please email marie@mariemurphyhealthfitness.com

Murphy METs Programme (Video)

Know Your METs to Lower Breast Cancer Risk/Recurrence

Exercise reduces an individual’s risk of developing breast cancer. Furthermore, in individuals who have already been diagnosed with the disease, exercise reduces the chance of a cancer recurrence as well as improves quality of life.

Below is an easy explanation of the METs pro­gramme which I did for an ini­tia­tive called ChooseToTri.  June O’Connell started Choose­ToTri  after hear­ing me speak at the Irish Cancer Society’s Annual National Breast Cancer Conference (2010) when talking about the relationship between exer­cise and can­cer prevention (METs).

In this video, I explain METs in a clear and easy to under­stand way.

For further information on METs please see:

Murphy METs Programme (Video)

Know your METs for Prevention – Recurrence of Disease

Calculating your weekly METs km-hour


Breast Cancer Awareness – 6 Weeks Beginners Course

Breast Cancer Awareness

Research indicates that physical activity after a diagnosis of breast cancer improves quality of life, reduces fatigue, and assist with energy balance. Both reduced physical activity and the side effects of treatment have been linked to weight gain after a breast cancer IMAG0225diagnosis. Studies have found that women who exercise moderately (the equivalent of walking 3 to 4 hours per week at an average pace (3-4 METs) after a diagnosis of breast cancer have improved survival rates compared with more sedentary women.

6 weeks Beginners Course

I will be offering a 6 weeks beginners course which will cover three theory workshops & three practical training workshops to provide participants with the tools to improve flex­i­bil­ity, bal­ance, co-ordination, mobil­ity, strength, mus­cu­loskele­tal func­tion, bone den­sity and con­fi­dence, in addi­tion to hav­ing an impact on car­dio­vas­cu­lar fit­ness, weight man­age­ment and psy­choso­cial well-being.

To reg­is­ter for the programme par­tic­i­pants must be 3 months post-surgery with med­ical clear­ance.  Course fee €75.  To add your name to the roster or for fur­ther details please email marie@mariemurphyhealthfitness.com  All participants will be accepted on a ‘first-come, first served basis’ (Additional courses will follow).