Health and Fitness Column

Children increase parent’s life expectancy

By John Taylor | Apr 09, 2014
Photo by: File John Taylor

My wife, Andreya, and I welcomed our second child into the world on April 3.  Riley Marie Taylor was born at 10:30 a.m., weighed 7 pounds 9 ounces, and was 19 inches long. Though she was smaller than our first daughter, Molly, she is the image of her mother in every way.
Good thing too. Wouldn’t you want to look more like Andreya than me?
Though I know I’ve signed up for the “no sleep” lifestyle with two toddlers at home, those long nights may actually have some long-term health benefits. According a recent study published in the “Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health,” those with children tend to live long than those without.
Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark analyzed data from 21,276 childless couples between 1994 and 2005.
A total of 15,210 of the couples successfully conceived and gave birth to children, while another 1,564 adopted. The researchers then examined the survival and mental health of the couples not able to bring children into their households and compared those rates to couples that did.
They found that the death rate was twice as high for men who wanted, but couldn’t have children. For women, it was four times higher.
For men, the researchers found that men who adopted or had biological children had lower rates of developing mental health ailments, and had a 74 percent lower chance dying early.
In comparison, women who adopted instead of having their own children only lowered their death rate by half. Furthermore, the researchers found that when couples adopted, they were half as likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness compared to childless households.
I will say that since Molly came into my life, I find myself driving the speed limit more often, running a lot more, staying away from the bar scene, and even doing very grown-up things like paying life insurance.
Though I often reminisce about adventures my friends and I would get into during high school and college, if someone offered me the chance to relive those days, I would say no. I wouldn’t trade Andreya and my little girls for any amount of money or adventures, and in many ways, I get more excited about life when I wake up in the morning by Molly poking me and saying, “Daddy….up now, please.”
I believe that when children are in your life, becoming excited about living is just natural. Sure, it was fun staying out all night in college, getting home at 5 a.m. on a Saturday, sleeping until 2 p.m. and stammering down the stairs looking for the pot designated to cook “Top Ramen” in. But now I am more excited about taking my girls to the park, indoor playgrounds, story time at the library, and finger paint classes.
Now I just can’t wait until Molly and Riley get a little older, and we can do those daddy-daughter disc golf tournaments. The Taylor family is going to dominate off the tee box.
Yes, I’m talking trash about family disc golf…but just because I don’t engage in beer pong anymore doesn’t mean I can’t get competitive about sports covered on ESPN 8, “the ocho.”
If you got the “Dodgeball” reference, you can babysit my little girls anytime. I’ll leave a copy of “Obscure Sports Quarterly” for you to read after they go to bed.