Conor Halpin, journalism intern, speaks to ‘Fit Farmer’ Michael Mulryan and programme coordinator, Laura Tully.
Michael Mulryan (63), is a tiler and third-generation farmer who rents his farmland, from Ballyforan, Co. Roscommon.
Michael was one of twenty-four farmers, who adopted a proactive strategy by battling fit for the future, and shed over 3 stone.
Fit Farmers is a six-week wellbeing and exercise programme, which Laura Tully, a nurse with over 20 years’ experience in promoting health founded in 2019.
Laura has worked with Roscommon Sports Partnership to deliver the programme to 76 farmers in Roscommon to date and hopes to recruit farmers for the next programme in March 2021.
Significantly positive health outcomes have been achieved by participants such as improvements in weight, body mass index, abdominal circumference, cardiovascular fitness and strength.
Participants have regularly testified to the mental health benefits achieved in addition. Similar programmes are being rolled out in Wexford and Laois.
What is your farming connection?
I am a tiler fifty years. My earliest memory was dad doing the oats harvest. I saw the initial piece of machinery was a horse with a swarter, incredible invention, but farming has moved on since then.
Around the 1920s in Glenamaddy, Dad would milk two or three dairy cows and sell eggs at the infamous mobile shop.
How would you feel the programme has influenced your life?
Firstly, it has benefited my prosperity; I would endorse it to people looking to take on a challenge and change their lives.
To note, I have two substitution knees and have suffered from cancer. My health issues didn’t influence the completion of the programme as it was adapted to suit my requirements.
Laura was devoted and stayed in contact routinely. After the six week programme of workshops and workouts, I kept up the good habits and participated in a walking programme in mid-2020.
I regularly walk around my neighbourhood, and I have removed the morning breakfast roll, full Irish breakfast from my diet.
It was a big routine to eat healthily, but I feel more colour is on the plate.
Why did you organise the programme, Laura Tully?
Professionally and personally, I have been acutely aware of the toll farming take on farmer health and wellbeing for some time and wanted to deliver a programme that educates farmers about practical ways they can look after their health and wellbeing so that they can live longer and have a better quality of life.
The most recent research in Ireland confirms that 74% of male farmers have four, or more, risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
This means they are three times more likely to have an acute cardiac event (stroke or heart attack) compared to those with fewer risk factors.
Evidence like this, spurs me on to keep advocating for and promoting farmer health and wellbeing, we have a lot of work to do!
Finally, how has Michael performed Laura Tully?
Michael is a tremendous ambassador for the programme having accomplished significant improvements in all of his health markers.
He has seen a reduction in medications and I’m told his medical consultant is thrilled with the outcomes for Micahel in terms of his health.
Michael tells me he has gained a lot of understanding about making healthier food choices and learned a lot of practical advice about nutrition and health.
Michael disclosed that his high blood pressure diagnosis has been reversed. I am very proud of Michael and all the fit farmers in Roscommon!