About a year ago I wrote about the inflammation of business travel. My first-hand experience helped me understand why so many middle-aged jet-setters turn up with heart rhythm problems. Basically, I found out that life on the road serves up stress.
Yesterday, I met business travel’s first cousin: taking your child to an over-scheduled all-day state championship.
For our family, it was an academic competition, but my argument would hold true for travel-soccer tournaments, swim meets or even brownie conventions. You get the picture. You’ve seen the picture: idle parents watching children play.
Yesterday, our day started too early for even a bike racer to sneak in a work-out. On the way, we stopped at McDonalds for breakfast. No, we hadn’t cut up fresh fruit the previous morning. When we reached the event, the kids sprung into action and the parents sat. Before long, it was lunch time. And no again, we hadn’t prepared low-fat sandwiches on whole-grain breads the night before. After eating lunch we sat some more–all afternoon to be exact. This unhealth persisted into the evening hours. We capped our late night ride home with dinner at a Waffle House, one of the only restaurants still open after nine o’oclock on a Sunday night. (We called Whole Foods; they wouldn’t stay open for us. Yes, of course, I told them I was a heart doctor with a blog.)
Don’t get me wrong, my wife Staci, and I love our kids. We are proud when they attend prestigious tournaments. But if we traveled on a regular basis, like many “competitive families” do, there is little doubt that staying healthy would require much more serious planning and motivation.
Based on what I saw yesterday, and what can be seen on the sports fields across America, most families are not cutting up fruit and making healthy sandwiches the night before. They are doing as we did yeaterday: eating lousy food and standling idle all weekend.
Like I learned from my occasional exposure to business travel, this weekend I saw how easy inflammation can transform a previously athletic adult into an AF patient.
It’s true that all parents love to see their children beam with the self-esteem that achievement brings. As a parent, I know this warm feeling well. Thank goodness.
But as a doctor charged with treating mostly middle-aged patients, I can attest that too many parents are sacrificing their own health for the triumphs of their children.
Is it too much to ask for both kids and parents to be healthy?