Keeping Cork Healthy: Week 10 - 10 top tips for fitness

15th June 2020

The Mardyke Arena UCC have teamed up with The Echo for our new campaign ‘Keeping Cork Healthy’ series to give the Cork community weekly tips on how they can stay fit and healthy during this lock down period.

In this edition, We recap our top ten healthy tips so far for body and mind, plus advice on posture when working …


Top 10 Tips & Advice – Keeping Cork Healthy

IT’S 10 weeks since we started our ‘Keeping Cork Healthy’ campaign in partnership with the Mardyke Arena UCC. Here, we have selected our top 10 tips and nuggets of advice in that time:

  1. Health is wealth: Health, both mental and physical, impacts greatly on overall wellbeing. Therefore, in difficult times like these, we need to be kind to ourselves and prioritise our health.
  2. Mind your mental health by staying connected with family, friends and neighbours: Sometimes, it’s the smallest gesture that is the most appreciated, so why not call or text your elderly or vulnerable neighbours, or reconnect with an old friend.
  3. Fight diseases with physical activity: Moderate physical activity that gently raises your heart rate, breathing and body temperature, whilst still being able to talk comfortably, can have protective factors in cardiovascular disease such as stroke, hypertension, diabetes and some cancers.
  4. Structure: Putting a structure on your daily activities will not only help you follow through with your plan to do some activity, but also provide a sense of certainty in an uncertain time which will help your mental health. Look to include things like mindfulness, meditation and cooking to your schedule. If you’re working remotely or otherwise isolated, free slots daily where you can do some activity. Plan, plan, plan!
  5. Become present: Ask yourself, when you look back at this time, what will you have used it for? “Make what you can of what you have been given. Live what can be lived. That’s what excellence is,” according to author Ryan Holiday.
  6. Try to be kind to yourself with expectations. We are living through an unprecedented global situation. You can only do the best with what you have.
  7. Limit exposure to news and social media if it is causing anxiety: 1-2 short updates per day from factual resources is plenty. Now is the time for that boxset you hadn’t got to.
  8. Make a shopping list using these headings: Fruit and vegetables, Wholemeal/Wholegrains, Milk Cheese, Lean Meat & Nuts, Spreads and Optional Treats. Fill the list in that order. Leave out optional treats and see how much money you save.
  9. Don’t take risks with niggly injuries —ask an expert. As part of the ‘Keeping Cork Healthy’ campaign, the arena clinic are offering free consultations to the community. If you or a family member can relate to any of the above, or have any queries, email
  10. Protect your immune system. Eat whole foods, have a nutrient-rich diet. Our immune system needs this to function well.


Working from home doesn’t need to be a pain in the neck!

Even with restrictions easing and some returning to work, the majority of us will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future, writes Conor O’Mullane, Chartered Physiotherapist at the arena clinic at Mardyke Arena UCC.

On average, those who work at a desk spend 70% of their working day sitting. Working from home will only increase this time, as we find we no longer have commute times, official lunch breaks, and find ourselves with fewer reasons to get up and walk around.

Research highlights that sustained periods of prolonged static postures will increase the likelihood of triggering old injuries or causing new injuries. This applies whether you sustain good, bad or awkward postures for long periods of time. Regular movement is key!

Some tips to reduce the likelihood of injury:

1. Sit correctly: Use a proper chair. Find the most supportive chair in the house. Sit into the back of your chair, with your feet flat on the floor. If you have an adjustable chair, get the height of your chair right. You want your knees at 90 degrees. If the chair is too high or low, this may encourage you to sit with your legs crossed or sit on your legs, leading to a slumped back.

2. Consider a foot stool: If, by sitting back into the chair correctly, it means your feet don’t lay flat on the floor then get something to support your feet. Often we sit forward in the chair simply to have our feet reach the floor. This means our muscles need to do all of the work to support our back. Even a modest kitchen chair will have a back on it designed to support our bodies. Use it!

3. Lumbar support: If you have a chair with good lumbar support, ensure you sit back into it to reap the benefit. If you don’t have a lumbar support, try a rolled up towel or cushion in the small of your back. If you maintain the natural curve of your lower back, it will maintain correct posture for your upper back and neck.

4. Raise your screen to eye level: The top of your screen should be at or just below eye level. Use books, an empty shoe box or whatever you can to elevate your screen. It prevents slumping, head forward and rounded shoulders.

5. Don’t forget your arms and shoulders: Where possible, use a chair with arm rests that allow you to keep your elbows at 90 degrees. If possible use a separate moveable keyboard. The keyboard on your laptop restricts the positioning of your body by being attached to the screen. A separate keyboard would enable you to maintain good sitting or standing posture while working.

6. Avoid repetitive rotation: If working between a notebook and laptop, or turning from screen to write notes, be aware of repetitive rotation, of both neck and back. Make sure to swap sides regularly. Moving the notebook position, will ensure you are not turning in the one direction repeatedly over extended periods of time.

7. Take regular breaks: Sometimes, if you are slow to get started or prone to procrastination, there is a tendency to work through breaks to make up for it. Your body needs the change of position. Be as disciplined as possible. It’s a good idea to try to mimic the movements you would have been doing if you were still in the office. Set an alarm if it helps you keep to a schedule.

8. Try a standing desk! I know we don’t all have an adjustable desk or standing desk lying around at home. We do, however, have a kitchen counter top, ironing board, cardboard box or stacked books to raise our laptop height to allow us work while in standing. You still want the top of your screen at or just below eye level and your elbows at 90 degrees. Standing up will change your posture, putting different muscles in use, even though you are carrying out the same tasks. Try it!

As part of the ‘Keeping Cork Healthy’ campaign, the arena clinic are offering free consultations to the community. If you or a family member have any queries on the above, get in touch by emailing the arenaclinic@ucc.


Recipe of the Week: Darina Allen’s White Soda Bread and Scones


Soda bread only takes 2 or 3 minutes to make and 30-40 minutes to bake. It is certainly another of my ‘great convertibles’.

We have had the greatest fun experimenting with different variations and uses. It’s also great with olives, sun dried tomatoes or caramelized onions added, so the possibilities are endless for the hitherto humble soda bread.

Flour varies from country to country and our soft Irish flour is perfect for soda bread.

NB: Buttermilk also varies in texture, so you may need slightly more or less.


450g (1lb) white flour, preferably unbleached

1 level teaspoon salt

1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (bread soda)

Sour milk or buttermilk to mix – 350-400ml (12-14fl oz.) approx.


  1. First, fully preheat your oven to 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8.
  2. Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured worked surface.
  3. WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS. Tidy it up and flip over gently. Pat the dough into a round, about 4cm (1 1/2 inches) deep and cut a cross on it to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this.
  4. Bake in a hot oven, 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8 for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for 30 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.


  • White Soda Scones Make dough as above but flatten into a round 1 inch (2.5cm) deep approx. Cut into scones. Cook for about 20 minutes in a hot oven (see above).
  • White Soda Bread with Herbs Add 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped herbs e.g. rosemary or sage, thyme, chives, parsley, lemon balm to dry ingredients and continue as above. Shape into a loaf or scones and bake as for soda bread.


Inside the mind of our Cork sports stars — how are they adapting?

This week, boxer and Mardyke Arena UCC Emerging Talent Programme athlete Saoirse Morrissey, tells us how she is adapting.

“Due to my knee operation right before lockdown (literally 2 days before), I didn’t get much physical training done. Instead I focused on a positive mindset and attitude! I took part in meditation for about 30 minutes a day and ate all the right foods and drank plenty of water.

This helped me focus on what I could do, not what I couldn’t. I also kept up to date with my knee rehab and did all the exercise I could. After week 6 of lockdown, I started walking, however much I could, whenever I could. I worked my way upp 1 mile to 6 miles. These small goals helped motivate myself back to the lifestyle of an athlete!”


Next week:

Dealing with knee injuries, and developing a mindset to aid growth


Catch up:

Click link to all our home work-out videos.

Click here to catch up on Keeping Cork Healthy: Week 1 – Keep fit, in your home

Click here to catch up on Keeping Cork Healthy: Week 2 – Strong body & mind

Click here to catch up on Keeping Cork Healthy: Week 3 – Minding your mental health

Click here to catch up on Keeping Cork Healthy: Week 4 – How to stay injury-free while working out at home

Click here to catch up on Keeping Cork Healthy: Week 5 – Beware of common injuries

Click here to catch up on Keeping Cork Healthy: Week 6 – Diet tips to help boost your health

Click here to catch up on Keeping Cork Healthy: Week 7 – Mindful eating

Click here to catch up on Keeping Cork Healthy: Week 8 – Fitness for all abilities

Click here to catch up on Keeping Cork Healthy: Week 9 – Flexibility is your friend


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