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[00:00:00]

Today with Claire Byrne on RTG Radio one, Marianne is in sunny Donegal and she makes a very valid point. The street scene in Killarney was not necessarily the people of. So the cases won't necessarily show up in Keris daily numbers. As we know, up here in Donegal, visitors from all over Ireland, north and south are flocking to our towns and villages throughout lockdown. So maybe people in other counties need to hang their heads in shame. Also on third level, which we were talking about earlier with Minister Simon Harris, this listener says, my son has to take up a full time campus accommodation place as his dad is in a high risk category and cannot have him return home at the weekends.

[00:00:36]

Is the minister now saying he cannot have any friends over to his apartment for the full academic year? We need to remember the mental health of young people is a factor as well. I heard about somebody who's going to the UK to take up a college place in September as well, and they just don't know when they can come back. I mean, it will remind you of immigration in the 50s and 60s, many students has this disorder, don't live in campus accommodation.

[00:00:59]

They're shoved into overcrowded and often substandard accommodation. What will be done about this? So lots of questions coming in on that. And my daughter is paying 11000 euro for a master's with very little contact time, which used practicals and placements. Surely this exorbitant fee needs to be reduced, you would think. But it seems that for now the fees are remaining as they are. That's what the minister said to us. He's going to look at it at budget time.

[00:01:24]

But for now, the fees are the fees. That's what he said when he spoke to us this morning. Now, with large swathes of us forced to work from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, daily habits and behaviors have changed a lot. A new research from the Irish Heart Foundation has found that over half of people in this position are now spending significantly more time sitting down than previously. And I'm joined now by Tara Curran, whose physical activity co-ordinator at the Irish Heart Foundation.

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And also with us is Professor Niall Moina from the DCU School of Health and Human Performance. You're both very welcome. Tara, can I come to you first on this? It doesn't really come as a surprise, I suppose, that people are sitting for longer periods of time if they're working from home, although if you're in an office, you're probably sitting down for long periods of time to say good morning, Claire.

[00:02:10]

And yes, I don't think we were surprised that more people were spending more time sitting down. But I think the number of hours is quite significant. It's over two hours, 40 minutes extra per day sitting down, which we know is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. So I think the new routine that we've adapted to has in many ways made us a lot more sedentary.

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So what do you think is going on? What is taking us to a place where we're sitting down for nearly three extra hours a day?

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Well, if we were commuting into our office, we were possibly walking to a bus stop or a dart station. We were moving around the office, maybe attending meetings, having to walk to the canteen, to colleagues, desks, etc. Now we find that we're getting up, we're turning on the laptop and we're sitting down doing back to back video calls, which means people are sitting for two, three, four hours at a time before standing up and taking a break.

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OK, Professor, I want I want to bring you in here. I'm going to assume that your advice is get up occasionally. Yes, but the. We're having no luck with our phone lines here at this morning. Now, can you hear me? No, I can hear clearly.

[00:03:33]

OK, listen, we'll come back to you. Let's sort that out. But to come back to you, Tara, on this. And I was saying to Nia there that, look, the advice probably is to get off, but it sounds very mundane and obvious. But but that's it, isn't it? We all have to move a little bit more.

[00:03:48]

Yes. We're, I suppose, encouraging people to take a look at their daily habits. And how has it changed from when we commuted into an office cell for the month of September? We are calling on people to sign up to the escape your challenge so they will receive a monthly plan of movements where they will be encouraged to stand up and get moving for one minute every hour of their working day. OK, so that's not that much, is it?

[00:04:15]

No, it's very manageable. We're also calling on employers to encourage their staff to schedule shorter video calls. So instead of an hour long meeting, can they do it in 50 minutes? That allows the person a chance to stand up, get in a better movement, send a few emails, do a little bit of work before the next call takes place. So it gives us a break really from my laptop.

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And I think people will be surprised to hear that even if you are exercising. So if you're doing your 30 minutes, but then you proceed to sit down for the whole day that actually you're you're working against the exercise that you have already done.

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Yes. Unfortunately, research in the area is saying that even if we achieve the recommended amount of physical activity, which is currently 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity, five days of the week, but we sit down for long periods of time, then we're actually counteracting the benefits of the exercise we are doing and that possibly we need to be doing a lot more exercise or we need to be taking those regular movement breaks during the day.

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I think with no Moina back now, and I do want to tell us what you were going to say there about this problem of people sitting all day and the fact that we are setting for more three hours more than we were since lockdown began.

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Well, I think, first of all, we have to know what is sedentary. And basically, for the average person, if you are taking less than four and a half thousand steps a day, you're sedentary because that's what you need just to perform activities of living. And most people don't realize there is a host of health conditions that are associated with being inactive. And obviously, you're talking to the Irish Heart Foundation. Cardiovascular health and metabolic health are two of those.

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But the good news is that there are I just heard that the last part of the older person on the line and the first thing I will say is, yes, there is clear evidence that, you know, if you do 30 minutes a day and then you sit for the rest of the day, you're going to develop these metabolic diseases. On the other hand, if you do lots of exercises, that's you know, you could probably do an hour, a day of intensive, intensive exercise.

[00:06:29]

You're going to get benefits. But the other side of the coin is we're not all that active. So if you're at home sitting there, there is evidence you get up and walk, say, three times an hour and walk for two minutes at two miles an hour, which is very, very, very, very, very, very easy intensity. You get tremendous improvements in metabolic health. And I think that's an important message.

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And what about because I know some people I feel like standing up now because I've been sitting here since 10:00 AM, but I'm sitting down as I'm talking to you. But if I was standing up at my desk, not moving around, but standing up. But I know some people have standing desks. Does that make a difference?

[00:07:05]

Not not as much as going for a two minute walk. You probably will get more benefit from the two minute walk than from standing at your desk. We know that that if you drink a carbohydrate drink and you get up every 20 minutes for an hour, it's around 25 percent less glucose and less insulin in your bloodstream. And remember, it's the metabolic ill health that's causing a lot of the problems associated with Colvert. So it's important that we maintain our metabolic health.

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OK, we have a listener here who says that because they're working from home, that more time to work out. Since the commute is no more. I go for a walk every morning before work and a weights workout at lunchtime. That's very impressive every day, much more than I used to. And I've no more two hours sitting in the car. Quite a few people, I would imagine, have more time because they're not commuting.

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I think that the previous caller hit the nail on the head. It is about routine and I think it's important to our lives have been turned upside down. And I think people have to find ways to get that activity into their lives. And that's exactly what you should be doing. It's about routine.

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OK, Tara, would you just give us some tips for people just to get them in the habit and as Niall says, into the routine of moving more?

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Yes. And as that message said, and scheduling a little walk in before or after you sit down to work as grace, it's replacing that. Means that you might have before we're encouraging people to schedule shorter video meetings so they can get up and move about in between. We're encouraging people to also take their brief time, take their lunch time and use that to stand up, go for a walk, do an exercise class online. And we're also, if you can switch from a video call to a phone call where you can walk around and make that call and something like elevating your laptop so you stand up while doing your video call will allow you even to to fidget and move about that little bit more than you would if you're sitting down.

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OK, I want to talk to you both about the covid pounds, because lots of people saying that they put on weight since the restrictions were introduced. And I'm wondering, is that all down to the fact that we're not as active or is there a stress factor at play there? And I do want to start us on that one.

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Well, it's probably a combination of both. I mean, we have never had to face something like this before. And I think a very, very important thing that your listeners should understand is that the the the metabolic dysfunction appears to occur much faster in response to inactivity than the positive effect that you get from exercise. So you should not be setting the problem as we possibly eat, as we sit. That's your that's your worst nightmare is inactivity, plus increased calories that's going to impair your metabolic health.

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And that's the last thing we need to be doing in the current environment.

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The other thing as well is that when you're at home, you're close to your own fridge in your own cupboards, Tara, your own food supply all of the time.

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Exactly. We have a new leaf that people could download called the Wellat Homeliness, which gives some really simple tips for people around eating well and keeping active while they work from home. So something like keeping the snacks hidden or working in a room that's not your kitchen. It means that the food isn't in place. So you're less likely to sit there and maybe mindlessly eat your snacks. We're also saying that your breaktime get up from your desk and go and eat in the kitchen at the table, and that's where you eat.

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Don't be snacking at your desk because some people are saying that they don't feel they're eating more since the restrictions came into place and yet the weight is going up. Is that because of the lack of movement or is there something else at play? That's why I'm asking the stress question, because people feel that perhaps stress is having an impact on their weight.

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Well, anyway, scheme would be a combination of factors. So if we're stressing less, then we have less energy expenditure. And if we're eating the same amount of food as we did before, then over time, potentially that could lead to weight gain. And also when people are stressed, they're more inclined to possibly snack more and do that kind of mindless eating where we don't even notice. We've eaten the packet of crisps and they're gone before we realize.

[00:11:28]

So it sounds like both of you are saying that if you're putting on weight, you're eating more and you're not moving enough.

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Yes, it's usually the combination of all of your lifestyle factors. Do you agree with that, Niall?

[00:11:39]

Yes, indeed. Yes. I think that's a yes. Stress will have an impact on this. But I think more importantly, people are just out of their normal routine. When you're out of your normal routine, that's very, very, very easy to pick up bad habits.

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OK, Target, this might be a question for you coming from a listener. Would you recommend using a blood pressure testing kit at home?

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I suppose if somebody has an issue, they're worried about their blood pressure in the first place to go to would be their GP and their GP would advise them. First of all, they check their blood pressure. They might advise their home monitoring for them to take with them. But certainly the GP would be the first port of call there.

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OK, and I'd come back to you on your own routine. I know that you're a big fan of moving around every 20 minutes or so, isn't it? But you also lift weights very regularly during the day.

[00:12:33]

Well, again, my routine was I would get up every morning and do my work go between six thirty and the thirty, and that has been totally changed on its head. So what I tried to do now, because I am setting a lot at my desk like everyone else and most of my day on Zoome as well. So I really had to change. So what I do is I get a little bit of a roll back exercise in the morning, but every hour a few dumbbells and do not fancy weights, few dumbbells.

[00:12:58]

And every hour I will either do a lower body or an upper body exercise. And over the course of a day I'm doing three sets of four exercises every day along with my cycle on my run.

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Yeah, well, like, if you're on those UMCOR meetings, are you saying sorry, now have to go into the next room and lift the weights or are you doing it on the Zoome call and can everybody see you doing it.

[00:13:20]

No, I'm not doing on the gym call but if I get up off my desk after resume call and I just stretch out and I actually went to the room next door, I just lift weights. Even if it's only for five minutes, there is nothing that increases your metabolic rate. There's no drug, there's nothing like exercise. So that's why I do it and do it regularly. Yeah.

[00:13:36]

OK, good advice there. And Tara just had another listener ask and I think we might have addressed this already, but you can't make up for that movement throughout the day with a big walk in the evening.

[00:13:48]

And in terms of the risks around heart disease and stroke, it is a risk factor if we set for a long period of time. So even if we're getting active in the evening, we also need that regular movement throughout the day. And obviously, the more exercise we can do in the evening, the better. But it's often easier if we can break that up throughout the day with ten minutes here, 15 minutes there, and then maybe a bigger chunk in the evening.

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Okay.

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Somebody says they're listening to this and they they're having phantom chest pains listening to this segment, the tramping the roads on my lunch today, without doubt. I hope they are phantom chest pains and they're not they're not real. If they are, will you please seek advice? OK, Professor Nimona and Tarakan from the Irish Heart Foundation, thank you both for joining us. And I can assure you that during this commercial break, we are all going to be walking around the studio here.

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Text five one five one today with Clare Byrne on Archie Radio one.