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HomeFarming News‘I am in good shape for a 73-year-old woman’
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘I am in good shape for a 73-year-old woman’

The National Dairy Council, in association with Cappagh Hospital Foundation, has teamed up with racehorse trainer, Jessica Harrington, to raise awareness about bone health ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on October 20th.

The most common bone condition in Ireland is osteoporosis, with approximately 300,000 people over 50 years of age estimated to have the condition. Only about 15% of people with osteoporosis get diagnosed.


Harrington is one of the world’s leading horse trainers and the most successful female trainer ever at Cheltenham.

Before becoming a horse trainer, she represented Ireland on the world stage as a three-day event rider.

She competed at European and world championships and qualified for the 1984 Olympics in LA where she, unfortunately, had to withdraw at the last moment due to a lame horse.

She has since gone on to build the Jessica Harrington Racing brand, training Cheltenham Gold Cup and Irish Grand National winners to name but a few.

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Based down in Kildare, JHR is a family-run business managed by Jessica, her daughters, Kate and Emma, and son-in-law, Richie, training over 200 horses and supporting 70+ jobs.

A balanced diet and weight-bearing exercises 

Jessica, now aged seventy-three, leads an active lifestyle, as well as consuming a balanced diet.

“I have always lived a very active life through working with horses and training all my life, so I am in good shape for a 73-year-old woman. As you get older, you need to be really conscious of your bones and the risk of fractures becomes more paramount.”

“There are certain nutrients which play specific roles in the health of our bones, including calcium, protein, phosphorus and vitamin D.”

Dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt and cheese provide many of these key nutrients (calcium, protein, phosphorous – and vitamin D in fortified dairy products), she added.

“I always have granola with fruit and yoghurt every morning and eat a very good varied and balanced diet which helps to keep healthy and strong, and I always follow the daily recommended 3 servings from the milk, yoghurt and cheese.”

“As well as a ‘bone-friendly’ diet, I keep pretty fit with weight-bearing, resistance-style exercises which are particularly important for bone and muscle health, I get a lot of brisk walking in around the race tracks and my grounds every day so it keeps me very active.”

Almost any person at any age

Although women are more likely to develop osteoporosis, it also impacts men and even children.

Osteoporosis is more common in white or Asian women older than 50 years of age, but it can occur in almost any person at any age.

While bone health and strength are determined to a large extent by factors outside of our control such as genetics, gender, and age; some factors can be controlled such as diet and physical activity.

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James Cashman, orthopaedic surgeon, National Orthopaedic Hospital Cappagh, says: “To maintain bone health, it is critical to engage in weight-bearing exercise, to stimulate good bone formation in our younger years; and for maintaining a healthy bone mineral density into our later years.

“Good nutrition is also essential to provide the building blocks needed for optimal bone health. The inclusion of dairy foods as part of a bone-friendly lifestyle is recognised by leading Osteoporosis authorities both nationally and internationally.”


To coincide with the campaign, there is a comprehensive website at which includes useful information on an array of topics.

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