Housework Is not Always a Healthy Exercise Alternative

Housework may not be as healthy as people think – and those who include domestic chores as part of an activity regime tend to be heavier, according to research by the University of Ulster Sports Academy.

Professor Marie Murphy, Head of the Ulster Sports Academy at the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown campus

In the Sport NI survey, over 4,600 people were asked to rate the amount and intensity of their physical activity at home, in work, for personal transport, in sport and recreation.

The research found that housework accounted for a significant proportion of the total amount of moderate to vigorous intensity activity reported.

Those reporting the highest amount of housework were actually heavier than people reporting other forms of moderate intensity exercise.

Although it is acknowledged that any activity is better than none, the study suggests that those undertaking domestic chores may be making the assumption that it is moderate intensity and contributes to the 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity recommended in UK guidelines.

When questioned for the survey, less than 43 per cent of respondents reported meeting or exceeding the government guidelines and these individuals reported 11 to 73 per cent of their weekly moderate intensity activity tally came from doing housework.

The research was led by Professor Marie Murphy, Head of the Ulster Sports Academy at the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown campus.

“Housework is physical activity and any physical activity should theoretically increase the amount of calories expended,” explained Professor Murphy.

“But we found that housework was inversely related to leanness, which suggests that either people are overestimating the amount of moderate intensity physical activity they do through housework, or are eating too much to compensate for the amount of activity undertaken.”

Women and older people questioned in the Sport NI Sport and Physical Activity Survey (SAPAS) reported included higher levels of housework.

For women, exclusion of housework from the list of their weekly physical activities meant that only one in five met current activity recommendations.

Professor Murphy continued: “When talking to people about the amount of physical activity they need to stay healthy, it needs to be made clear that housework may not be intense enough to contribute to the weekly target and that other more intense activities alsoneed to be included each week.”

The team of researchers included Dr Paul Donnelly (Sport Northern Ireland), Dr Gavin Breslin (University of Ulster), Professor Simon Shibli (Sheffield Hallam University) and Alan MNevill (University of Wolverhampton)

The research, entitled ‘ Does Housework Keep You Healthy? The Contribution of Domestic Physical Activity To Meeting Current Recommendations” is published today in BioMed Central’s open access journal, BMC Public Health.

To find out more, visit

Ten years of health – naturally!

Northern Ireland’s longest running health event, the Natural Health Fair celebrates its tenth year a week earlier on Sunday 3 November (noon to six), at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, at Shaw’s Bridge in South Belfast.

Feet first: Visitors can vote with their feet, literally, with on-day sampling, massage and plenty of other chill out options. Naturally a great day out!

A free to enter on the day prize draw, ‘Give Me Ten,’ promises ten great prizes for each year of the event. While event charity, Cash for kids, will have a donation-based draw on the day for natural health goodies.

The ethos of the event has always focussed on bringing complementary health to visitors and with free admission for the second year, the event is now available to a much wider audience. Combined with on-day sampling, a diverse variety of exhibitors and the great outdoors in the surrounding Belvoir Forest and Minnowburn Wood, make the event a great, healthy, family attraction.

This year’s talks and workshops offer a mixed bag and at £4 per person offer great value; the power of forgiveness lecture from Ingrid Darragh, will help those struggling with unsettled issues or indifference to move on with their lives. While Northern Ireland’s only transformational breathing facilitator, Brian Williams will offer a workshop, ‘one breath at a time,’ exploring why so many of us breathe too shallowly, causing complications such as panic attacks and anxiety. And when it comes to our health, the old adage that prevention is better than cure is realised with plenty of seasonal advice from Mayella Almazan, on avoiding common ailments in a chemical-free way.

Overall wellbeing from a holistic ‘whole person’ perspective is also high on the agenda. Ticking the boxes is the ‘nutrition for fertility’ presentation that will explore the fundamental importance of eating well for optimum health. And for those who simply want to learn how to relax, or as it is known, fall awake, the ever-popular subject of mindfulness returns, with an interesting talk entitled ‘zen in ten’ by Frank Liddy.

For younger visitors, children’s make and take crafts and face painting are complemented by the Owl Man’s annual visit; always a firm family attraction. A £2 charge covers materials for both children’s activities.

Although parking is available at the hotel, overflow space is available at the adjacent Cooke Rugby Club or by using the event’s free shuttle bus, which runs from the House of Sport car park to the hotel on the half hour from noon.

More information is available at and on Facebook and Twitter.

Amateur Lady Boxers pulling no punches as they get “Fit to Fight Cancer”.

A group of 16 ladies from mid Ulster will be going head to head in the boxing ring at the Elk Bar and Restaurant in Toome on 25th October in aid of Cancer Focus.

The ladies , who have been in training for the last 8 weeks, will lace up their gloves for this unique pink collar boxing event and take their friendly rivalry to the next level to raise money for the charity.

As well as training hard the ladies have been working hard to raise sponsorship for Cancer Focus.  Cancer Focus are your local cancer champion, here to help you and your family if you have cancer.  They help your community take positive steps to a healthier life, to lower your risk of cancer, and are determined to bring a more hopeful future by working for better public policies and funding ground-breaking research.

Tickets for “Fit to Fight Cancer” are priced at only £10 for what promises to be a night to remember with some eye candy for the ladies at the drinks reception and between bouts.

Three judges and referee Patsy Hurl will oversee every round.  Compere for the evening is Mr John O’Donnell with the main event followed by a disco and dancing late into the evening with Seamus Hasting on the decks followed by live music.

The fun begins at 8pm and tickets can be purchased at the Elk in advance or at the door on the evening.   Organisers Cathy McPeake and Johanna McCorley were amazed by the response to participate  and are encouraging  the public to come along for a night out with a difference – Pink Collar Boxing  – Think Pink!

For more information click HERE.

Pulling no punches for Cancer Focus!


30,000 pegs, 2,000 tonnes of soil, 2,000 tonnes of sand, 11 acres and 1 huge team effort combine to create the largest land-art portrait in the UK and Ireland.

The 2013 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s opened today (Thursday 17th October) with a reveal of the largest land-art portrait in the UK and Ireland. Spanning 11 acres of land in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter,Wish is the portrait of an anonymous Belfast child which has been created by internationally acclaimed Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada in partnership with the City and its people. Using only natural materials and cutting edge satellite technology the final piece represents the largest piece the artist has ever created and will be free for all to view throughout the Festival.

For the next eleven days the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s will present over 70 different performances in venues in the North, South, East and West of the City. Director, Richard Wakely is thrilled to be opening with such a land-mark piece of work, “To present a piece of this quality and magnitude is staggering and provides a unique way to open this year’s Festival.  It is a free event that has enabled us to work closely with local businesses and volunteers and it is their commitment that has made it happen. We have 11 days of entertainment on offer throughout Belfast from 24 different countries with theatre, dance, visual arts, film and music filling spaces in all corners of the city. It is our Wish that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy it.”

Wish has been created in close partnership with the local community.  Local firms such as McLaughlin&Harvey, PT McWilliams and Lagan Construction Group provided materials, tools, machinery, staff and soil. Sand was provided by Tobermore and lime stone by Kilwaughter Lime -all free of charge.   The land was donated by the Titanic Quarter Limited , the project headquarters was provided by The Dock Café, the viewing platforms have been provide free of charge by W5, Belfast Metropolitan College, and Titanic Belfast.  Plus,   a core team worked alongside a host of community volunteers from groups such as NOW to provide hundreds of hours of their time to make it happen.  Other support was provided by the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, Titanic Foundation Limited and a major contribution from TOPCON who provided the GPS poles, technical support and training.

Artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada has produced similar pieces all over the world but is especially connected to his latest and largest project in Belfast, “I have created work in the States and all over Europe but this piece in Belfast has been a different experience for me.  The people have been overwhelming in their support and belief in the concept.  When I first started on this work it was only five acres but it grew both emotionally and physically.  Now, at 11 acres, it is my largest piece and I believe this magnitude is a fitting tribute to a city which has so much positivity to offer.”

Ellvena Graham, Head of Ulster Bank Northern Ireland reflects on the community nature of this opening event, “It’s encouraging to see so many people, businesses and organisations who have volunteered their time and resources to be part of this collaborative and ambitious land art project.   It is very fitting that a project which encouraged participation in the arts and is accessible to all opens this year’s Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s.”

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council for Northern Ireland reflects on the magnitude of the project,” The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is a truly international celebration bringing together arts and creativity from across the world under one cultural umbrella.  Wish is an inspirational and ambitious piece of public art that combines strong community spirit with contemporary arts practice – a union which is reflected throughout this year’s festival programme. It is a most fitting opening event.”

The 2013 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s would not be possible without the continuing support of various public and private sponsors, including Ulster Bank, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the EU, Queen’s University Belfast and the British Council. Plus, the many venues, performers and partner organisations whose commitment and passion bring the arts to life for all to enjoy.

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s runs from 17th – 27th October at venues all over the city and Wish can be viewed free of charge from various specified locations within the Titanic Quarter throughout the Festival. To find out more and book tickets for any event visit  or call  box office on 02890 971197. ⧣BelFest


The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has put together a list of 10 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland over the next week (October 21 – 27).

  • Night at the Museum, Ulster Museum, Belfast, October 25.   Have you ever wondered what happens when the visitors leave the Ulster Museum for the night? Does the Edmontosaurus rise and roar over Takabuti the mummy and does Peter the Polar Bear plod up to take a sneaky peek at the pottery and paintings? Now you can experience a night-time adventure with a torch-lit tour before bedding down for the night.
  • Halloween at Carrickfergus Castle, Co. Antrim, October 26.  Do you dare visit Carrickfergus Castle on this scariest of days? The castle has seen battles and sieges and is reputed to have ghosts from many different periods who haunt its rooms and battlements. Will you see any of them?
  • Jack O’Lanterns Workshop, Market Place Theatre, Co. Armagh, October 26.  Come along for an arts and crafts fun-filled morning of creating your very own Jack O’Lantern, perfect for all trick or treating.
  • Peter Corry’s Master of the Musicals, Lagan Valley Island, Lisburn, Co. Antrim, October 25.  Peter Corry makes a long awaited return with an evening of music dedicated to the great musicals of our time.  A native of Belfast who now travels the world with his unique voice, Peter returns to his first love, the musicals.

  • Spooky Goings on at the Caves, Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, Co. Fermanagh, October 26.   Put on your scariest fancy dress costume and journey underground on a nail biting, spine tingling guided tour of these fantastic caves.
  • Haunted Hazlett, Hezlett House, Castlerock, Co. Londonderry, October 26 – 29.  Back with all new ghoulish live action performances and other eerie delights, this is a night you’ll not forget.  Immerse yourself in the action if you dare.  Fancy dress encouraged.
  • Little Spooks, Navan Centre and Fort, Co. Armagh, October 26 – November 1.  Take the family along for a fun interactive Halloween experience.  Meet Suzie and Steve Scarecrow and help them prepare for Halloween, learn the skills required to be a scarecrow and experience the Scarecrow House.
  • Basketry Workshops, An Creagan, Co. Tyrone, October 21 & 26.  Acclaimed craft artist Louise McLean will offer two days of workshops in basket making.  An enjoyable introduction to this remarkable skill, and is a perfect class for beginners.  Participants will each have their own lovely willow basket to take home.

  • Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival, Co. Londonderry, October 26 – November 3.  The famous Halloween celebrations will be even bigger and better in 2013 as Derry~Londonderry celebrates the magnificent City of Culture year in style with spooky fun for all the family, a parade and spectacular fireworks.
  • Halloween Ghost Trains, Downpatrick & County Down Railway, Co. Down, October 27 – 28.  There is something strange happening this Halloween, with ghosts on the platforms and ghouls on the train, it can only be the return of the Halloween Ghost Trains when you can travel on a vintage train, visit the great wizard in his haunted grotto train and tour a Viking graveyard.

Here are Jacqueline’s pick of family events happening this weekend across NI.


Prepare to be spooked! Come along to Rowallane Garden, Saintfield, for a bewitching day out for all the family on Saturday and Sunday. The garden will come to life this Hallowe’en with a terrifying ghost trail, spooky stories, Phil’s Farm and his animals and watch your little ones be transformed with fearsome face painting. To top off the event, why not behead, scoop out and carve your very own pumpkin to take home with you toward away the evil spirits!


CRAIC are delighted to be presenting the annual Johnny Crampsie Music Festival from 18th to 20th October, and this year there is going to be loads of ‘Song and Dance’ throughout the weekend.  The festival starts on Friday with CRAIC playing a very special session in the cabaret style auditorium of the Alley Theatre.  Joining them will be traditional Irish Dance from Niamh Brown School of Irish Dancing.


This autumn is set to be a busy one for Derek Ryan, the country singing sensation, with an extensive concert tour.  Derek and his band will be making a stop at the Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen on Wednesday 16th October on their 2013 concert tour, with special guest Hugo Duncan.


Cancer Focus NI and LILAC Cancer Support are teaming up to present Zumbathon for their Think Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign on Saturday 18th October at the Meadowbank Arena Magherafelt. It is a two hour Zumba session but you can stay as long as you want. Wear PINK and bring a friend, and most of all ENJOY YOURSELVES! Pre-register at LILAC house, Cookstown for £8 and get your goodie bag or pay £10 on the day. Everyone will get a Think Pink T-shirt.


For an evening of fabulous fashion, beauty tips and advice or simply an excuse for a girlie night out, head to Armagh City Hotel on Friday 18th October for Armagh’s annual Autumn/Winter Fashion and Beauty Event.  Perfect for those of us who like to make a grand entrance or those looking some inspiration for the party season, this annual event provides a fantastic opportunity to sample Armagh’s finest fashion and beauty under one roof. A fabulous night for all attending is guaranteed, showcasing the best of Armagh’s independent boutiques alongside the high street’s most loved names offer.

Theatre at the Mill Newtownabbey present David Copperfield on Thursday 17th October.  Young David Copperfield’s sheltered life is thrown into turmoil when his mother marries the ruthless and violent Murdstone. Thrust into poverty and hardship, David must work out whom to trust if he is to grow into the man he should become. Capturing the haunting beauty of the Yarmouth coast and bustling Victorian London, Hotbuckle use their distinctive style to tell the beloved story of Dickens’ favourite child as only they know how.
The 2013 Ulster Bank Festival at Queen’s begins on Thursday 17th October and runs until Sunday 27th October.  It is the biggest festival of its kind in Ireland, attracts 60, 000 people from all over the world, and puts Belfast on the world map of artistic celebration.  But more importantly it’s a festival for the people of Belfast, to celebrate their city and their love of the arts. Find the full programme of events and book tickets at

For more details on these and other events across Northern Ireland, news and competitions see, follow us @whatsonni and like us at and remember to add your  events FREE OF CHARGE at www.whatsonni.

Theatre at The Mill present Opera Theatre Company’s production of Carmen

Opera Theatre Company, Ireland’s National touring opera company is delighted to bring Bizet’s timeless masterpiece, Carmen to Theatre at The Mill on Saturday 26 October.

Imelda Drumm (Carmen) & Michael Wade Lee in Opera Theatre Company's touring production of Carmen opening GB Shaw Theatre Carlow Fri 3 May 2013 then touring Waterford, Kilkenny,Galway, Tallaght, Dundalk, Dublin and in Oct: Ennis, Bray, Tralee, Dun Laoghaire, Newtownabbey see

Award-winning director Gavin Quinn and designer Aedín Cosgrove (both Pan Pan Theatre Company) once again combine forces after an extremely successful run in Edinburgh (winning The Herald Angel Award for Embers and All That Fall). This talented creative team have channeled their impressive skills into a dramatic re-staging Carmen.  Updating the action to the present day, stripping it back and setting it in a gritty urban landscape.  It is Carmen alright, but not as we know her.

Irish mezzo-soprano, Imelda Drumm is powerful in the title role, and she leads the talented cast with dominant force as the feisty anti-heroine. Sinéad Campbell Wallace steps in as Micaëla for this October run, with Owen Gilhooly as Escamillo and OTC YAA Maria Hughes in her professional operatic debut as Mercedes. American tenor Michael Wade Lee plays the role of Don José in this riveting tale of love, lust and betrayal.

Music Director Andrew Synnott will conduct Carmen, sung in English, which will feature a local children’s chorus for each theatre on the tour, in addition to an eight member chorus and OTC’s thirteen piece touring ensemble.

One of the most popular operas of all time, Carmen has gripped audiences since its premiere and has lots of sizzling opera hits including the unforgettable Seguidilla and the Toreador’s song.

Cast also includes: Mary O’Sullivan, Michael Dewis, Gerard O’Connor and Ciarán Kelly.

“Lives, breathes, and clutches at you emotionally … another triumph for this wonderfully plucky company.” Irish Theatre Magazine

Sat 26 Oct Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey

Box Office: 028 9034 0202

Ticket prices: £18/16/14

Spooky Spellbound Festival at Castle Espie (26 Oct – 3 Nov)

For those who are feeling brave, bring your little monsters along for a whole host of Halloween events running from Saturday 26 October to Sunday 3 November.

There’s something to keep everyone entertained from face painting, haunted tours, storytelling, hubble, bubble, toil and trouble with Magnus Vikings, arts & crafts, owls, fancy dress competition plus lots more ghoulish activities.

We have listed a few of the key highlights that will be taking place during the festival for full details visit  or call us on 02891 874146.

To kick off the event on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 October  we have our popular Bird Feeder Workshops – come along and learn the best way to feed birds as the colder weather approaches. Castle Espie Bird Watching Club will be on hand to help you make a variety of bird feeders to hang in your garden from peanut, sunflower to fat ball feeders. Extra cost applies to cover materials. 12noon – 4pm both days.

The kids will also have the chance to create their very own diabolical Halloween picture using a printing press and to finish try out the DIY spooky spider craft. Activities will run from 11am – 4pm.

Terrible Tales of Terror, 28 – 31 Oct.  During the Halloween Season thousands of Pale-bellied Brent geese can be heard cackling across the dark Lough during the night of Halloween. These birds have travelled across Iceland and Greenland on their migration to the shores of Strangford Lough; islands which were once the home of Vikings and places of dark & foreboding legends. Visit us and hear these tales whilst toasting marshmallows on the fire. 11am – 4.00pm.

Spooky Fright Night, 29 Oct.  Storytelling for those who do not scary easily. Journey into the deep, dark, and somewhat dank woods of Castle Espie to hear the whispered stories that have made this visitor attraction one of the top 10 most haunted places in Northern Ireland. Tales of a mystery woman, lost Victorian children, and diabolical acts of darkness. Booking is essential,  cost for adults is £10 and children £5. For WWT members £3.75 for adults and £2 for children.

On the 30 and 31 October a selection of reptiles and creepy crawlies will be visiting giving you the chance to get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures. If you prefer your creatures to be on the fluffier side Mantella Environmental Education will be joining us with a selection of birds of prey (Wed 31 Oct, 12 – 4pm only).

Bring the little ones along to the Drumlin Theatre and show us your monster moves during our Monster Mash Disco. From 1pm to 4pm, suitable for up to 12 years old plus mums and dads.

“Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble”…with Magnus Vikings who will have a challenge or riddle for you to complete. If you dare and fail you might find yourself turned into a frog! Only you know if you are brave enough to take them on!?!

Halloween-inspired arts & craft, 28 – 31 Oct.  Will include jelly spiders, mallow monsters, magic candle stick workshops (30 – 31 Oct 11am  – 2.30pm), make a bat mask, get a pumpkin carved. PLUS come dressed up and be in with a chance to win the fancy dress competition and of course our face painter will be here to help you get ready for your Halloween parties on the 30 & 31 Oct, 12pm – 4pm.

On the 2 & 3 November join us for an afternoon of ‘tree-mendous’ fun. Accompany Robin McKee, our resident tree expert, around the reserve and learn about the various types of trees native to Northern Ireland. You will also get the opportunity to help him plant a variety of native species on site and find out the importance of coppicing.  Our friendly hedge-witch, Marian Partridge, will also be on hand to introduce you to ‘The Standing People’. Meet the trees, and learn how to spell your name in tree language. Hear her tales of folklore and of the characters of trees that can be found in our woods. So all in all – an agreeable two days of science for anyone interested in the trees of our Island.  Spaces are limited, so contact reception to book your space. 1pm – 3pm.

These events will make Castle Espie the favourite fright destination for all the family throughout Halloween half term, don’t miss out! Please refer to website for festival activities, timings and cost –

Fire Themed Fireworks at Seapark 26th October

This year’s Seapark Fireworks Festival on Saturday October 26th, is set to be the best yet featuring a fun fair, an even bigger food fair, live music and a spectacular fireworks display finale to finish the event in style.

This year’s music choice will be popular with all age groups ranging from Ellie Goulding to Elvis.

The fun will kick off at 4pm with the children’s fun-fair and a fantastic food fair with everyone’s favourite foods from fish & chips to hog roasts, Holywood’s favourite cinnamon scones, crepes and lots more. The perfect half-term outing for the whole family and all reasonably priced!

At 6pm, popular local band The Jukes take to the stage to entertain the crowds with their fantastic repertoire of hits guaranteed to get everyone dancing!

The event will draw to a close after the spectacular fireworks display at 8pm. Prepare to be thrilled as the sky above Belfast Lough will come alive with explosions of colour and sparkle.

Commenting on the event, Alison Stobie, North Down Borough Council said, “We’re looking forward to another great night at Seapark this year – good food, good music and spectacular fireworks – perfect ingredients for a fun night for all the family. Everyone is welcome to come dressed up in your spookiest Halloween costumes but make sure you wrap up warm and bring a torch!”

So come along and join the fun on Saturday 26 October 2013, from 4pm at the Seapark Recreational Grounds, Holywood. Admission is FREE, making this an event not to be missed!

If you fancy more Halloween fun, on the following day, Sunday 27th October, Cockle Row Cottages in Groomsport will be hosting a fun Halloween Day. This FREE event which runs from 1pm – 4pm will feature ‘Creepy Creatures’ including snakes, spiders and lizards as well as some more unusual animals such as skunks, possums and ferrets.  For those of a more timid nature there are spooky crafts and balloon modeling.  There will be live traditional music from North Down and Ards School of Traditional Music.  From 12.30 – 2.30 pm there will be a Trick or Treat Station and Walkabout Entertainment and from 2.00 – 4.00 pm a Stilt and Fire Walker.

For further information, please phone our Tourist Information Centre on: 028 9127 0069 or visit

Mr Hullabaloo Hosts an Enchanted Tea Party

The Courtyard Theatre in Ballyearl will be throwing an enchanting afternoon tea party on Sunday 3rd November for young children with special guests Mr Hullabaloo and Storybook Princesses. Children and their parents can expect to enjoy an afternoon of fun activities, entertainment and delicious treats.

Kids can come dressed in their best fairytale fancy dress to meet their much-loved make-believe characters who will join them for tea, pictures and laughs. Tea party-goers can treasure the day and receive family pictures snapped by a professional photographer. After being charmed at the bewitching banquet, guests will be sent back to reality with a special party favour as a token of their terrific time at the Courtyard Theatre!

If interested in bringing along a little princess or gallant knight to the tea party, the event begins at 2.30pm and is suited for children aged 8 and under. And if the little ones cannot wait to get into costume then fear not! The Courtyard Theatre will also be the venue for Mr Hullabaloo’s big Hallowe’en Bash on Saturday 26th October! His Not-So-Scary Hallowe’en Party will be filled with fun sing alongs and storytelling activities for everyone to enjoy.

Further information on all of Mr Hullabaloo’s shows and tickets are available at