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Me and my health: Caroline O'Hanlon on her lifestyle

By Helen Carson

The 33-year-old doctor from Newry is captain of the Northern Ireland Netball team and the only player from here to compete in the GB Super League with her team Scottish Sirens. She is also a top GAA player.

Q: Do you take regular exercise - and if so what?

A: As I play gaelic football I train most days, once or twice a day. It's a mix of strength and conditioning as well as team skills, but it depends on what part of the season it is. If I have a match I will have strength and conditioning sessions at least twice a week.

Q: What's the worst illness you have had?

A: I've never had any serious illness apart from the odd virus. But I've been injured twice playing football - each time it was down to accidental collisions on the field. I suffered rib fractures about eight years ago and was unable to play for a few weeks then I had to wear a supportive vest when I did. I also fractured my jaw which had to be wired in place until it healed - it wasn't as bad as it sounds. Neither or my injuries were as worrying as, say, a knee injury which is much more serious for a player and would have kept me out of the game a lot longer.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: I eat a lot of protein and try to eat the right foods at the right time, especially if I'm training. If I eat rubbish I won't have the same amount of energy that I need. I'm pretty good at eating fruit and vegetables and try to avoid bad food. I will eat more in the middle of the day as most of my training is late in the evening so I won't get time for dinner, but will eat afterwards. Recently I have started eating specially created ready meals which have the right amount of protein and goodness for people who train regularly.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: Too much caffeine. When I'm at work I will have a morning coffee and probably drink more than I should. Sometimes I would skip breakfast if I'm running late, but when I do eat breakfast it is usually porridge or some form of cereal. On a day off it will be eggs.

Q: Do you drink and/or smoke - if so, how much?

A: I don't smoke and am not much of a drinker - you can't afford the recovery time when you are training. When I do take a drink there is nothing in particular I like ... sometimes wine, but just whatever I'm in the mood for - it really depends on the occasion.

Q: Do you take any supplements?

A: Everyday I take iron and Omega 3 fish oils and occasionally I will take Pharmaton (multi vitamin capsules for vitality). While I feel better for taking Pharmaton it is not a regular supplement. I also take Aloe Vera juice although I'm not sure if it does any good or not. There isn't enough scientific evidence to say it is beneficial.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: Playing sport - as I'm involved with team games there is a good social life around it, and I get to spend time with my team-mates who are also my friends. I also like to go to the cinema, go shopping and watch sport too. I love watching GAA, rugby and boxers like Paddy Barnes (below) when they're competing.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: Grand ... but not long enough. The training I do is in Belfast, Scotland and Armagh so it will be after 10pm by the time I get in so I get to bed late and am up in the morning at 7.30am for work. If I'm training I will be up earlier to get there for 6.45am.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: Sometimes, especially when I come into work and feel sore after a match or training. I don't worry about ageing but would be more concerned about reaching my shelf life in terms of playing sport. Fortunately I haven't had any major injuries with the long-term effects that go with them.

Q: What is you go-to product or habit that keeps you feeling healthy?

A: I love going to the swimming pool and spending time there in the Jacuzzi as it is relaxing while being beneficial to the muscles after a training session or a game.

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