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Me and my health: John Martin on his lifestyle

Family time: John Martin with sons Noah (standing) and Ezra
Family time: John Martin with sons Noah (standing) and Ezra
John before taking part in a bike ride

The 34-year-old is a Conservation Team Leader at RSPB Northern Ireland and lives in Dundonald, Co Down, with his wife Gillian and their sons Noah (4) and Ezra (2). One of John's roles at RSPB NI is working with fellow environmental organisations in Northern Ireland keen to put the environment at the heart of a future agriculture policy here. John loves the great outdoors and is a keen cyclist, biking to work and even pedalling around Majorca on a recent family holiday.

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

A: Yes. I have always been an active person. I played team sports at school and university but since starting work and having a family this has become more difficult. I relish a day in the Mournes hiking or mountain biking with family and friends, but more recently I have been road biking or running. I am a big believer in 'making your commute count' and regularly cycle to work (26km round trip) and try to do longer distances at the weekends if I have time.

Q: What is the worst illness you've had?

A: I suffer from asthma so I have to keep that in check. I get my flu jab every year to stave off the winter chest infections but sometimes they get me and I'm out of action for a few weeks. Fortunately, I've never been hospitalised with it so I count my blessings. I recently dislocated my shoulder, though, and that was rough.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: Out of 10 I would probably give myself a six or a seven. We try to eat healthily as a family with plenty of locally produced fruit and vegetables. I have ambitions of growing more myself but have only managed strawberries and herbs so far. We try to get our meat from the local farm shop because the cows are raised in the surrounding fields where we live.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: Loads. I hear healthy diet advocates talk about 'cheat days' and for me every day is a cheat day. Generally I am on a 'see food diet'. I see food, and I eat it. This will catch up with me eventually.

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

A: I always enjoy a beer on a Thursday evening as a way of winding down to the weekend, and a few pints if I'm out with friends on a Friday.

John before taking part in a bike ride

Q: Do you take any supplements?

A: No. I feel like I have a balanced enough diet not to take supplements. In the lead-up to autumn/winter I load up on Vitamin C-rich foods in anticipation of winter colds. A friend of mine also makes a mean garlic soup which he swears by. If there is ever a 'man/woman down' he arrives at the door with a steaming pot of it.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: I love time with family and friends in the outdoors. There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing, although I seem to have a hard time convincing others of that. I also enjoy a night out with some good food and company.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: My mates have a running joke that it takes me about 30 seconds to fall asleep and that's fair enough. I am not great at going to bed early and always find something to do or watch on TV, a bad habit that I need to grow out of.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: I'm on the fence about this one. However, things have started to creak a little so I need to keep oiling the joints.

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

A: My bike, my Garmin GPS watch and Strava (sports tracking app). I think a lot of health products are complete nonsense and capitalise on people's insecurity. There is no substitute for showing up on the start line, and to keep showing up, whether it's an active commute, lunchtime run, walk, race, whatever. Find what works for you, and keep at it.

RSPB NI is backing the Nature Matters NI campaign ( and with DAERA currently seeking everyone's views on future farming policy in Northern Ireland, you can visit this link to have your say:

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