Healthy Christmas Recipes

Tired of endless scrolling, looking for inspiration for the perfect recipe for finger food? Or, trying your hand at cocktail making, but can’t seem to find the right recipe? Don’t worry!

Croí have compiled all of our favourite recipes for you to try over the Christmas season. We are bound to have every recipe you need for any dish you desire! Oh, and did we mention? They’re also healthy and delicious!

Crudités and Dips

Why not change things up a bit this year and instead of the usual fat and salt laden finger foods, experiment with a selection of healthier crudités and dips. Here’s some links to some of our favourites from the internet:

To complete your healthy platter, why not add:

  • Chopped up carrots, peppers and celery to use for dipping.
  • Some unsalted crackers and breadsticks.
  • Finish off your platter with a selection of unsalted mixed nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and fruit such as grapes, mixed berries, figs and cherry tomatoes for a pop of colour.

Healthier Canape Selection

If you’re trying to be mindful of your salt and fat intake over the Christmas period, why not try some healthier finger food alternatives. We’ve linked some of our favourites below:


This year, lots of people are trying alcohol free alternatives to their favourite beers, wines and spirits and there are so many different options to choose from. Why not get creative and whip up an alcohol-free cocktail at home? From virgin mojitos to alcohol free passionfruit martinis, we’ve linked some our favourites below:

*Cocktails and mocktails are high in sugar, so avoid or use sugar free mixers if you have diabetes.

Christmas Dinner

Arguably, the best meal of the year. So, even if you are trying to keep it relatively healthy and keep the salt and fat content to a minimum, there is no reason to skimp on flavours. Luckily, turkey is a lean meat, low in saturated fat and the typical side dishes of potato and vegetables do not need to be cooked in butter, goose fat or covered in gravy to be tasty. Play around with flavours and take some inspiration from the recipes linked below, such as these paprika roast potatoes, chill charred brussels sprouts, lemon thyme carrots and mulled red cabbage with clementine’s.

Healthier Desserts

Why not mix up your Christmas dessert offerings and include some slightly healthier ones. Think delicious fruit based desserts, such as grilled pineapple, baked apples, lighter crumbles and fruity pavlovas.

Turkey Leftovers

Not sure what to make with your leftover turkey? Sick of turkey curry? This year why not get creative and whip up a Vietnamese Turkey Pho, Fruity Moroccan Turkey Tagine or even a Korean Turkey Rice Pot. Just because you can’t travel doesn’t mean your tastebuds can’t!

Happy Cooking!

Croí Night Run Training

Get Training For the Croí Night Run!

Congratulations! – you have taken the first step to a healthier lifestyle by signing up for the 7th Annual Croí Night Run/Walk/Jog. Not only will you be helping us lead the fight against heart disease and stroke, but you will also be making a positive change to your lifestyle! It has been proven that regular exercise assists with maintaining a healthy weight and lowers your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Engaging in regular, routine exercise will also contribute to positive changes in your mental health and overall well being. 

So join our 10-week training programme to get you running, jogging or walking across the finish line!

Where to start? 

Our aim is to get you successfully across the finish line! You may be a total beginner or indeed you may have completed this challenge with us in the past. To meet everyone’s needs, we have developed two training programmes to suit your needs. The programme you choose depends on how you want to complete the 5 kilometers (jog/run or walk). The duration of both programmes is 10 weeks and will prepare you for the finishing line by gradually building up your ability week by week.


Let’s begin by setting your goal. The key is to set a realistic goal!

Would you like to:

  1. Jog/run the 5km; or
  2. Walk the 5km?
Training Programme 1 – run/jog:

Each week you will need to allocate 3 sessions per week, ideally having a day of rest in between allowing your muscles and joints to recover.

Click the table below to enlarge/print. 

Week 10 - Event Day, Oct 8th!


  • Always include a 10-15-minute warm-up of a light-intensity walk (feels comfortable, you can still hold a full conversation)
  • A jog/run is at a speed faster than walking where both feet are not in contact with the ground at the same time.
  • Always include a 10-minute cool-down walk at light intensity (feels easy, no shortness of breath and can have a conversation easily) at the end of each session incorporating some stretching into the cool-down.
Training Programme 2 – walk:

Each week you will need to allocate 4 or 5 sessions per week, ideally having a rest day in between training days. See pace descriptions at the end of this page.

Click the table below to enlarge/print:

Week 10 - Event Day, Oct 8th!


  • If you need to take a break, be sure to keep the feet moving to ensure a constant steady flow of blood around the body.
  • Take a break during the walks only if needed.
  • At the end of each session, always include a 10-minute cool-down walk at pace: light, incorporating some upper body and lower body stretches into the cool-down.


Pace Descriptions


  • Walk/Run with a friend or family member as you can motivate each other.
  • Wear comfortable footwear ideally a running shoe that has some support around the heel and cushioning underneath.
  • Always keep hydrated during your sessions and throughout the day (aim for at least 2/2.5l of water throughout the day, build up to this over time).
  • Plan for rainy days, if you don’t wish to get wet,  plan on training indoors when it’s raining outside (a treadmill can be used or an indoor track) however, if you have never experienced a walk/jog/run in the rain you may be surprised how reviving it is (ps. just wear your raincoat).
  • To prevent injury, it is essential to warm-up and cool-down. A warm-up of a walk for 10-15 minutes at a light pace will help warm-up the muscles, open your arteries and prepare you for the exercise session and a 10 minute cool-down, incorporating some stretches will help you cool-down.
  • Include rest days between sessions but if this is not possible just listen to your body as the week’s progress.
  • Sometimes it is common to experience calf pain or pain in the shins the day after the session, if this occurs, apply a cold press for 15-20 minutes.
  • If you miss a day or week, do not fall off the wagon, start working from where you left it.
  • This programme is designed to ensure you will be able to complete your walk/jog/run even if you miss a week.
  • Print off your training programme and have it somewhere where it is at eye-view (e.g. on the door of your fridge) so you can mark off each week as you complete the sessions and track your progress.

Special thanks to our sponsor,
Irish Life Health.


Special thanks to our media partner, iRadio

Men’s Health Week 2020

Men's Health

Watch our Men's Health Week 2020 videos!

Men’s Health Week 2020 - Minding our Health

Men’s Health Week 2020 - Minding our Wellbeing

International Men’s Health Week takes place from June 15 – 21, and it aims to raise awareness of preventable health problems; encourage the early detection and treatment of health conditions in men; and support men and boys to engage in healthier lifestyle choices / activities.

Men still die on average about 4 ½ years younger than women. They also have a higher incidence of death rates for virtually all of the leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, stroke and suicide. The overall theme for 2020 is ‘restoring the balance’ as we start to emerge from the limitations of COVID-19. During the week, we are encouraging men to do something positive to restore the balance in their lives.

Pictured on Barna Pier ahead of Men's Health Week 2020: Paul Gillen, Health Promotion Officer, HSE; Pádraig Ó Céidigh, Former Senator; and Patricia Hall, Croí Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist. Photo credit: Boyd Challenger.

Men’s Health Week 2020 – Be Part Of The Solution

Pictured: Tommy Marren, Midwest Radio with Laurence Gaughan, HSE Health and Wellbeing supporting Men’s Health Week in 2020 in Mayo.

HSE Health Promotion and Improvement has funded the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI) to coordinate International Men’s Health Week (MHW) 2020 in Ireland. This runs from Monday June 15th until Sunday June 21st, Father’s Day. This year the theme is: ‘Restoring the Balance, Be part of the solution’. 2020 has been an exceptional year in many ways.  All aspects of life in Ireland continue to be shaped by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  It has had a major impact on men’s health.

Individuals across Ireland are trying to re-build their physical health, emotional resilience, relationships, jobs, finances, connections and routines  and everyone is asked to be part of the solution and do something realistic and practical, no matter how small, to help restore some balance and stability to all our lives.

This annual week aims to raise awareness of preventable health problems; encourage the early detection and treatment of health conditions in men; and support men and boys to engage in healthier lifestyle choices / activities. Men still die on average about 4½ years younger than women. They also have a higher incidence of death rates for virtually all of the leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, stroke and suicide.

In the West, the HSE is collaborating with Croí and many other voluntary organisations to provide information and to assist men throughout the region to be more aware of their health.  Themes that will be promoted during the week include mental health, heart health, cancer prevention, physical activity and rethinking what you drink.

Two pre-recorded virtual panel discussions focusing on healthy lifestyles, chronic disease prevention and mental health and wellbeing will be promoted. These sessions will be broadcast during men’s health week on Croí website and shared across various social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.  They will include expert advice and tips, as well as personal stories from some well-known personalities from the region.

In Mayo, Tommy Marren of Midwest Radio is supporting the week and says, “This week is an opportunity to encourage all men to lead healthy lifestyles, to be more aware of preventable health problems and to seek early detection and treatment for any health problems. This is now more important than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I urge all men to become involved in the week and access the many supports and services that will be available.”

A new free “Challenges and Choices” Man Manual is available. This covers a variety of men’s health issues including alcohol, food, physical activity, smoking, stress, blood pressure, sexually transmitted diseases, skin cancers, back care and help seeking behaviour.  This manual which was funded by the HSE is available to download or can be ordered from please click on search publications under men’s health.  It is also available on

Smoking and COVID-19

Smoking Cessation Banner

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke as well as many other serious conditions including cancer, respiratory and reproductive diseases. These conditions can affect people of all ages and tragically one in two smokers will die of a tobacco related illness.

Therefore, all efforts to support a smoke FREE society must be supported and we welcome the ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes from May 20th 2020. The pleasant taste from these cigarettes masks the true taste of tobacco and makes it easier for people to start smoking and to stay smoking.

If you are a smoker, the single most important thing you can do for your health is to give up! If there was ever a time to quit, now is it.

How does smoking increase the risk of COVID 19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more important than ever to quit. Smoking can weaken your immune system and increase your risk of developing COVID-19 and suffering complications if you do get infected. The most recent evidence from the World Health Organisation highlights that smokers are more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19, compared to non-smokers.


Tobacco smoking affects the function of the heart and lungs making it harder to respond to an acute infection. This happens as the natural barriers in the lungs are weakened and may make it easier for coronavirus to attach itself to the lung surface and infect lung tissue.

People who smoke are more likely to get the flu and are more likely to have a worse infection than people who don’t smoke. And just like the flu, a coronavirus infection may be more severe in people who smoke and will take longer to recover from the illness.

Hand to mouth

The virus can be transferred by hands, objects such as a cigarettes/vapes or surfaces. This why people are advised to reduce the amount of times they touch their face. This risk is increased when you smoke, as you are more likely to touch your face. Bringing your hands to your mouth frequently when smoking, can transfer the virus into your body.

Smokers who share cigarettes or vaping devices are also increasing their exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

How can I reduce my risk?

Stopping smoking or vaping now will lower the risk of severe symptoms and improve your outcomes if you contract the COVID-19 virus.

When you stop smoking the benefits are immediate:

  • the natural hairs in your airways (cilia) begin to work again which helps build your natural resistance to all types of infections
  • within 20 minutes your blood pressure and heart rate lower
  • after 8 hours the oxygen levels in your blood improve
  • after 72 hours your breathing and energy levels increase
  • after 2-3 months your lung capacity can improve by as much as 20-30%. All of these benefits will help reduce your risk and put you in a good position to fight the virus.

Don’t share cigarettes or vapes as you are potentially transmitting and spreading the virus between people.

Avoid smoking around others, as second hand smoke affects the airways and weakens the body’s immune system. Second hand smoke is particularly dangerous to children as their breathing rate is faster than adults so their lungs are exposed to more smoke.

Advice for quitting

Your own willpower and determination are essential components for quitting and getting the right help can double your chances of success. There are various treatment options available to help you quit and these include:

  • Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) – can help to reduce cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms. People who use NRT to help them quit smoking are twice as likely to succeed compared to those who don’t. NRT is available at all pharmacies, without prescription.
  • Medication on prescription – examples include: Champix (Varenicline HCL) and Zyban (Bupropion HCL SR). These medications can double or triple your chances of quitting successfully. Your GP will help you decide which medication is right for you. However be sure to speak to your GP well in advance of your quit date as these medications are often taken for a period of time prior to quitting.

If you are thinking about quitting smoking or would like further information about the different support methods available visit the HSE website or call the HSE quit line on 1800 201 203. Both services are still operational throughout COVID-19 pandemic.

Diabetes and COVID-19

Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease and consequently many people living with diabetes are also living with heart conditions. It is unclear if having diabetes puts you at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 than anyone else, however it does increase your risk for complications if you contract the virus. Recent data from the Department of Health has highlighted that 23% of all ICU admissions due to COVID-19 have underlying diabetes. Having diabetes causes the body to raise glucose levels during times of illness or stress which makes it more difficult to fight infection.

To reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 you need to be extra vigilant by following the advice of the HSE and taking the recommended precautionary measures. You should be aware of the signs and symptoms of the virus, and if do become unwell phone your doctor to arrange an assessment and testing.

Be prepared

Be extra attentive to your glucose control and monitor on a regular basis if you have a blood glucose monitor. Regular monitoring can help avoid complications caused by high or low blood glucose levels. Ensure to have a supply of quick acting carbohydrates if your blood glucose levels drop, these include non-diet sugary drinks, fruit juice, jelly babies and glucose tablets.
There is no disruption to the supply of medicines and therefore there is no need to order more medicines than you need. However, you should make sure you have a 2 week’s supply. Supplies should include ketone strips if you have type 1 diabetes and an insulin pen if you use an insulin pump in case of pump failure.
Ensure you have a sick day regime to follow. This is a plan that has been agreed between you and your health care provider, with information and advice about how you should manage your diabetes if you become unwell. If you don’t have one you should contact your GP for advice.

Diet and emotional eating

A healthy, balanced and varied diet is important for everyone, but especially so for people with diabetes. During these uncertain times, you may find it more difficult to maintain a healthy diet. With more time at home, increased stress and worry, and reduced activity, you may find that your normal food intake has changed and diabetes management has become much more challenging.

It’s important to keep to a structured meal pattern as much as possible. Here is where a little planning will go a long way. Try to jot down a general plan of meals and snacks for the week ahead, and base your shopping list off of this.

Generally, aim to have 3 main meals, spaced throughout the day with 1-2 healthy snacks if needed. However, if you find you have a reduced appetite you may be under-eating, it can be best to have a “little and often” approach such as 3 smaller meals with 3 more nutritious snacks that are higher in energy. Both approaches will not only help to stabilize blood sugars throughout the day, but will also help you keep your appetite, or physical hunger levels in check. This in turn will help to prevent under or over eating. See our list below for snack ideas.

Healthy low calorie snack ideas:
• A piece of fruit and low fat plain yoghurt
• Hummus and vegetables
• A small handful of nuts (30g)
• ¼ avocado on 2 rice cakes
• Hard- boiled egg
• Low fat cottage cheese with fruit

Higher calorie snack ideas:
• Full fat Greek yoghurt with nuts and seeds
• Peanut butter on wholegrain toast
• ½ avocado on 4 rice cakes
• A 200ml glass of full fat milk
• A matchbox of cheese on wholegrain crackers

For healthier sweet treats that have less impact on blood sugar levels:
• Home baking using zero calorie sweeteners such as Stevia or Canderal
• Sugar free jelly
• A couple of squares of dark chocolate
• Low fat Greek yoghurt with peanut butter and raspberries
• Sugar free soft drinks

It is important to stay hydrated and aim to drink about 2 Litres of water per day. For those trying to increase their appetite, it is best for now to avoid too much caffeine and artificial sweeteners as these can suppress appetite.


Continuing to exercise is beneficial for your physical and mental health and importantly it helps improve diabetes control through the lowering of blood glucose levels. If you previously went to the gym or swimming, consider cycling or walking but be sure to follow social distancing recommendations and stay within 5km of your home. You could also try one of our online exercise programmes.

If you take medications that put you at risk of a hypo (this is when your sugar levels become too low and you can feel unwell) make sure you carry a fast acting carbohydrate snack and monitor your blood sugar levels as you normally would.
Ensure you check your feet after exercise for red marks and blisters, this is because individuals living with diabetes often have reduced sensation in their feet and are at increased risk of foot infections and injury.

Routine appointments

Many appointments have been cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this is to reduce the risk of infection for both patients and staff members. If you were due to attend for retinal screening, chiropody or your annual diabetes review, your appointment will be rearranged once it is safe to do so. However, your GP is still available and you should phone if you have any concerns, questions about your medication, or if you notice or develop any of the following:
• Changes to eyesight
• Consistently high or low blood glucose readings.
• Red, bruised or broken areas to your feet
• Signs of infection or you become unwell


You should continue to take your diabetes medication as normal. If you have any concerns it is important that you link with your GP who will connect you with the Diabetes team where necessary.

Further information

Further information on COVID-19 and diabetes can be found here:

Controlling Your Portion Sizes

Portion tips from Croí's Dietitian

Portions Banner

Controlling your portions doesn’t mean you need to eat tiny amounts or measure out precisely the number of peas on your plate! However, we know that having a better understanding of healthy portion sizes helps prevent over-eating and weight gain. As we are now working from home a lot more, many people that would normally be eating in canteens and cafes are now preparing all meals from scratch at home. The portions served in canteens and cafes can be far greater than we need and we can get into a habit of viewing these larger portions as normal. Now might be as good time as any to retrain your brain to become satisfied on slightly less.

Use the Croí portion plate as a portion guide at mealtimes

Aim to fill your plate as follows:

  • Half plate of vegetables/salad
  • Quarter plate of wholegrain carbohydrates
  • Quarter plate of protein


Here are some tips to try:

  • Use a smaller plate: A standard-sized serving will look small on a large plate, making you feel dissatisfied. Use a smaller plate to prevent overloading. A general rule of thumb for a dinner plate size is 9 inches (23 cm) in diameter.
  • Use measuring cups for your carbs: If you are finding it difficult to gauge the right amount of pasta or rice to eat, try using measuring cups. A 200ml size mug is equivalent to 1 serving of cooked rice or pasta. (See the serving size guide for other food groups below).
  • Check the label: Make sure you know what portion the nutritional information on the pack relates to. It might be different to the amount you would normally serve yourself. Many products are packaged for sharing but will state a recommended serving quantity per person.
  • Smart Snacking: Be mindful of falling into a grazing/snacking habit at home. If you do choose a snack, aim for 150kcal (calories) per snack. This could be a low-fat yogurt and a piece of fruit, 2 rice crackers and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter/hummus, or 1 matchbox size of cheese and a small handful of grapes.
  • Leave the leftovers: Portion leftovers into a container and store in the fridge or freezer straight away so you’re not tempted to have seconds.
  • The 20 minute rule: Think you haven’t had enough? Wait for about 20 minutes before reaching for a second helping. It can take a little while for you to feel full after you have eaten. So avoid the temptation to keep eating and see if you get that feeling.
  • Slow down: Many of us can eat very quickly or eat while distracted at our desks or while watching TV. Our brain doesn’t get the chance to register this eating occasion. If we eat too quickly, we have usually over-eaten by the time our brain and tummy start to register this and we can feel uncomfortably full or suffer from indigestion. Slowing down the rate of eating actually helps us to enjoy our food and feel more satisfied on less.
  • Keep meal-times regular: Delaying eating for longer than 4-5 hours can have a knock on effect of eating larger portions sizes or less healthy food choices grab a ‘quick fix’ when hunger suddenly takes hold. Developing a structure on your day at home and scheduling time to prepare and eat your meals will help control your appetite and prevent over-eating or excess snacking.
Source: Department of Health / HSE 2016 Healthy Eating Guidelines.

This serving guide from the Department of Health / HSE 2016 Healthy Eating Guidelines, provides a handy visual for what servings of each food group should look like. For more information on the number of recommended daily servings per food group, based on your age, gender and activity level, click here.

Mexican Bean Soup

This hearty soup is so simple to make and a great way to incorporate more legumes such as beans in your diet. It is low in calories and high in fibre, making it an excellent, heart-healthy choice!

Serves: 8
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Nutrition information per serving (not incl. bread) : 104 calories; 12g carbs; 4.7g protein; 3.4g fat; 4.2g fibre

Dietitian’s tip: Many combinations of beans work just as well: mixed beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, butter beans, borlotti beans, black eyed beans etc.


Mexican Bean Soup Recipe


  • 1 large or 2 small red onions
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 vegetable stock cube, made up to 750ml stock
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ tsp chilli powder or cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tins chopped tomato
  • 1 tin red kidney beans or mixed beans
  • 1 tin chickpeas or cannellini beans
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander or parsley


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a low to medium heat.
  2. Finely dice the red onion and add it to the saucepan. Sweat the onion for 6-8 mins until it begins to soften.
  3. Crush or finely dice the garlic. Add it to the onions along with the ground cumin, coriander and chilli pepper or cayenne pepper.
  4. Continue to cook for 1-2 mins longer, stirring continuously.
  5. Add the tinned tomatoes and the stock. Stir well and bring it up to the boil.
  6. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Drain and rinse the beans before adding them in.
  7. Place the lid mostly over the saucepan, with some room for the steam to escape. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool before blending. If you prefer a chunkier soup, only blend ¾ of the batch.
  9. Sprinkle the fresh herbs on top before serving with some crusty wholegrain rolls.
Picture 1

Brown Bread Recipe

Recipe from Croí Friend and Mayo Man, Michael!

A fresh loaf of homemade brown bread coming out of the oven is hard to beat! It gives a sense of accomplishment far out of proportion to the ease with which it is made.

Makes: 1 loaf / approx. 16 slices
Prep time: 30 – 50 mins
Cook time: 50 mins

Approx. nutritional information per slice: 106 calories; 18g carbs; 3.4g protein; 2.1g fat; 3g fibre

Dietitian’s tip: You may use one type of seed or a combination, just ensure the total weight required remains the same. A very coarse stone-ground flour is essential and it not too difficult to find.



  • Sunflower oil, for greasing the tin
  • 2 tbsp treacle
  • 30g fresh yeast or 7g dried yeast
  • 350 – 425ml warm water
  • 420g extra coarse stone-ground wholemeal flour
  • 40g sunflower seeds
  • 10g flaxseeds or linseeds
  • ¾ tsp reduced sodium salt



  • Grease a 900g loaf tin very lightly with the sunflower oil
  • Pre-heat fan oven to 180°C
  • Mix the treacle with about 300ml warm water, then crumble in the fresh yeast (if using) or sprinkle in the dried yeast. Stir and leave to sit for 5mins for the yeast to activate.
  • Place the flour, seeds and salt into a large mixing bowl and mix together.
  • Stir the treacle, water and yeast together and pour it all at once into the flour.
  • Using your hand, mix through the liquid, adding extra water as you go until you have a wet, almost sloppy dough. If the dough is too dry it won’t rise well.
  • Next, scoop the dough into the loaf tin and spread evenly. It should come just half way up the tin. Leave in a warm place to rise for 20 – 40mins until it has risen right to the top of the tin.
  • Place in the pre-heated oven for about 45mins. The run a knife around the outside edges of the loaf, tap the tin upside-down on the counter to pop it out. Return the bread to the oven, upside-down for a further 5 mins.
  • Cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving. It is best eaten day of but will hold for a couple of days!


Sit Right While Sitting Tight!

Posture Banner

Countless issues have arisen in the last month which has dramatically impacted upon our working lives; from the closure of crèches and schools to the mass opening of temporary home offices across the country. While this undoubtedly will contribute to the containment of COVID-19, we need to set ourselves up appropriately in our make-shift office environments to minimise the effect of these potentially un-ergonomic spaces on our posture and spinal health. Likewise if you are self-isolating and find yourself sitting for prolonged periods of time, you are also putting excess strain on your back.

This article will include some helpful tips to optimise your home working space and also some short instructional videos on how to include regular activity stretches throughout the day to address the muscles imbalances that can arise due to prolonged sitting.

How to sit better

This video provides instructions on how to assume the correct posture while seated at a desk. In summary

  • Both feet flat on the floor
  • Uncross ankles and knees
  • Thighs parallel to floor
  • Sit on both sit bones equally
  • Tuck chin in to lengthen back of neck
  • Shoulders back and in line with ears
  • Shoulders in line with hips

If you do not have a desk and are perching on kitchen stools or slumping on couches over coffee tables, try to adapt your position so that you are achieving as many of the above alignments as possible. For example, if you are using a kitchen stool, place a number of big books under your feet until both feet can be flat on the books and thighs parallel to the floor. If you are sitting on the couch, move towards the front end of the couch, shift your weight as to sit evenly on both sit bones and allow the spine to extend up. To avoid straining the neck muscles, position the top of your monitor to just below eye level. If working with a laptop alternate between propping the laptop up on books when performing reading activities to having it flat on a table for typing tasks so that elbows can be at 90 degrees.

Regular Activity Breaks

We know now that prolonged time spent sitting is as bad for your cardiovascular health as smoking. Furthermore, it is a significant contributor to chronic musculoskeletal problems including disc degeneration, nerve impingement and low back pain. For these reasons, it is now recommended that we take a 2-3 minute break from sitting every 30 minutes. We can use these 3 minutes to address some of the muscle imbalances that can occur due to too much sitting such as weak leg muscles and rounded shoulders. This next instructional video includes 4 stretches that can be scattered throughout your working day/week and will help improve your overall posture.

Undoing the Sitting

Finally, even if you sit with good posture and take regular activity breaks, excessive sitting leads to a build up of pressure in the lower back. Also, constantly rounding your shoulders over stretches the back muscles and impedes the ability of your rib-cage to expand, an important component of effective breathing. This last video will address these two issues and take you through a series of movements to release both the upper and lower back and restore your spine to optimal functioning and ready to sit another day!

Croí’s Top Tips for Stress Management

Stress Banner

It is important to recognise that stress is part and parcel of our daily lives, especially with COVID-19, and while it cannot be avoided we can learn to deal with it. While the link between stress and cardiovascular disease is not well understood, we know that stress impacts on the blood clotting mechanism, it increases your blood pressure and when you are stressed you are more likely to lead an unhealthy lifestyle. For example as a coping mechanism people are more likely to increase their caffeine intake, smoke more cigarettes and drink more alcohol and be less active when they are stressed.

  • Be aware of what causes your stress. Being aware of this this gives you the opportunity to try to prevent stress or to manage the situation more effectively. You may not be able to avoid stress, but knowing what triggers you to become stressed can help you manage it differently.
  • Manage your time. Develop a system that works for you, not against you. Learn to prioritise, make lists and praise yourself for getting through the various tasks.
  • Try to create a good work-life balance. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and downtime.
  • Learn to accept what you cannot change. For example we cannot control other people behaviours or reactions.
  • Have a laugh every day. Rigid thinking and behaviour is a prime source of stress, whereas laughter can uncork the pressure and release built up tension. Laughing also helps us get a better perspective on the problem and tends to make us feel more lighthearted.
  • Keep a worry diary. Using a worry diary can help calm the mind by getting worries out of your head, allowing you to see them from a distance. Write out each worry, your feelings and fears, how likely it is to happen and your evidence for and against your worry coming true.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise can help tackle stress and allow your body and mind to unwind, as well as releasing endorphins into the body (feel good hormones).
  • Try relaxation exercises and mindfulness. With regular practice, exercises such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation can help to reduce stress.
  • Eat and sleep well. Eating and sleeping well will help manage stress more effectively.
  • Build a range of supports. Building up a range of supports is important in managing stress. It can be beneficial to accept help from others, share your worries with someone you trust as the saying goes ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.

Finally, remember be patient with yourself, gaining control over stress can take time.