Health across the generations

Four generations of the Downing family share their views on health, exercise and wellbeing

Rapid advances in medical research mean we’re sometimes bombarded with messages about what is good for us and how best to stay healthy. At times it can be overwhelming and, perhaps as a consequence, there has been a return to ‘back to basics’ approaches to health, diet and lifestyle.

Attitudes and beliefs about what constitutes healthy living are often influenced by what we learn at home from our parents and grandparents. With this in mind, be. magazine spoke to four members across four generations of the Downing family to learn more about their different ideas and approaches to health.

Marjie Downing, 93 years

What do you do to stay healthy?

I make sure I do 20 minutes of exercise every day. This includes my headstand routine, which has been part of my daily health routine for decades now.

What foods do you consider healthy?

I eat more vegetables than anything else, but incorporate plenty of fish, meat, eggs and chicken into my meals. I am also mad about lentils.

What health advice do you have for others?

I cannot advise people more strongly to do regular exercise. I have never had a fall and I’m sure that it is thanks to the fact that I’ve always exercised regularly.

Jan Downing, 63 years

What do you do to stay healthy?

I go to the gym four mornings a week to do a variety of classes. I try to mix up cardio and strength classes and particularly enjoy reformer pilates and Body Attack at the moment.

What foods do you consider healthy?

I am conscious of my diet and that of my family. I eat a lot of vegetables and plenty of different salads and usually have fruit for dessert. I cook every Sunday for my eight children and their families and I always make sure there is a vegetarian option at dinner.

What health advice do you have for others?

Getting into an exercise routine is the most important thing. Remember you are never too old to start going to the gym – I didn’t start until I was 50!

Caroline Downing, 24 years

What do you do to stay healthy?

I play basketball and netball each week plus occasionally do the daily workout on bodyrock.tv depending on what it is. I also make sure I have four AFDs (alcohol free days) a week.

What foods do you consider healthy?

I consider fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish to be the best for me. I am conscious of my diet but that doesn’t mean I always eat well; sometimes I’m conscious of how unhealthy I have been. I generally have porridge with frozen raspberries and blueberries in the morning, which keeps me full and stops me from snacking mid-morning. I also love Pressed Juices – I often take one of their ‘greens 2’ juices with me to uni because it’s got all the goodness from the leafy green vegetables and some apple to make it taste good.

What health advice do you have for others?

Motivation is key. If you are someone who struggles to self-motivate (like me) then try playing a team sport – that way the guilt of letting down your team will get you off the couch each week. I think the element of competition also helps keep my mind off the fact that I’m even exercising.

Ruby Downing, 5 years

What do you do to stay healthy?

I do gymnastics, swimming and tennis lessons.

What foods do you consider healthy?

My favourite healthy foods are mushrooms cooked by my mum and spinach and snow peas. But I do like eating cake and lollies sometimes too.

What health advice do you have for others?

Eat all your fruit at lunchtime.

Recommended reading - Issue Seven Autumn 2014

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