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 to place your name on the waiting list for upcoming course.

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

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  All participants will be accepted on a ‘first-come, first served basis’ (Additional courses will follow).

Balance in Our Everyday Lives

Homeostasis is an essential part for our health.  But, in order to promote a body in balance our mind needs to contribute. Choices we make in regards to stress reduction, healthy nutrition and regular exercise helps keep an imbalance at bay.

IMAG0188Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control. Managing stress is about taking charge of our thoughts, emotions, schedule, and the way we deal with problems. This isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Identifying our true sources of stress, we have to look closely at our habits, attitude, and excuses.

A regular diet rich in plant foods, fish, and lean protein boosts overall health and clearly helps protect against heart disease and diabetes. However when it comes to exercising inadequate nutrient intake deprives the body of the energy needed to perform, the carbohydrates necessary for glycogen replacement, the protein needed for tissue building and repair, and the micronutrients necessary for normal metabolism and maintenance of body homeostasis.

EilishThe health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore and the benefits are ours for the taking, regardless of our age, sex or physical ability. Our body needs regular exercise, the right food, lifestyle and mental attitude to achieve its true health potential.

Picture of my sister (survivor) and two of her girls out on a walk yesterday in California :)

Cardiovascular Exercise: Are You Getting Your METs?

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 EVENT – ALL WELCOME Marie Murphy_Breast Cancer Awareness Month_Save the date

Please contact Marie at if you would like a customised training programme.

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

Cancer fighting foods and drinks

Benefits of Water Soluble Fibre Foods

Meal Planning

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.IMAG0226
  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 months

    10-15 MET/hrs/week 5-8 months

    15-20 MET/hrs/week 9-12 monthsIMAG0290

  1. Eat a healthy diet: high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, low in fat and high in fibre.
  2. Drink a minimum 1.5 litres of water a day (water is the most important nutrient).
  3. Keep a record of your training to see your improvements and help motivate you.
  4. 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).

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.