Before I begin, let me preface this by stating that I am not a medical professional, so you may take any commentary that I contribute in this article to the topic of health with a hearty grain of salt (which, in high doses, is probably not good for your health).
It has virtually become a meme at this point that the average coin dealer is older and not in great health, in part due to their age, and another portion being due to the fast-food culture of coin shows and frequently being on the road in between. In a recent article published on the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta entitled “During Atlanta Fed Visit, Surgeon General Says Health Equals Wealth,” the connection between physical health and monetary wealth are laid out. Despite the well-meaning intentions of many public-health officials and educators, the general population in the United States still suffers from poorer health than most developed nations. This is also despite the astronomical cost of $3.3 trillion per year that is poured into our healthcare system. So, we pay more and preach more than many other first-world countries, and yet our health continues to fall behind them. What does this mean for a coin collector or dealer who frequently travels to attend coin shows?
Coin collecting is a hobby that requires at least some degree of discretionary income, so anything that can be done to increase your discretionary income is a way to bolster the opportunities available to you when building your collection. Those who practice healthy lifestyles tend to spend less on healthcare than those who do not that have to pay to either cure or manage conditions that they acquired through unhealthy practices. In short, investing in your health in a preventative manner is far more cost-effective than paying the price later if you get sick. Furthermore, those who are healthier are more likely to hold a full-time job and tend to take fewer sick days as well (a statistic also referred to in the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta article). Thus, it can also be inferred that someone with greater health would be able to attend more coin shows, stay active longer during those shows, live longer to amass a significant collection, and have more discretionary income with which to fund their collections.
So where do public health officials and educators go wrong? My opinion is that their advice can come off to the average person as somewhat preachy, and, in some cases, authoritarian (see New York City’s Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule). I am of the belief that the majority of Americans are not in favor of being told what to do, even if it is ultimately done with the best of intentions, and there are few things as quintessentially American as defying authority. What I do believe is that appealing to someone’s self-interest is typically the best way to affect the change you want to see in them. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams also admitted that the public-health message “is just not resonating with folks.” Another factor that may be contributing to the lack of resonance among the populace regarding public-health messages is the common perception that our health industry is linked too closely with the pharmaceutical industry, hence the notion that the most profitable patient is the one that is perpetually sick.
Back to coin collecting. While nearly non-stop public events and frequently traveling on the road are not exactly stellar environments for promoting healthy practices, there are some simple and cost-effective ways of including them into your daily routine so that you can remain in the action longer and go to more shows over your lifetime. Aging, genetics, and pre-existing conditions aside, there are several things you can do to invest in your health if you’re on the road or at a coin show:
- Try to avoid consuming processed meats, as they have been labeled a Class 1 carcinogen due to epidemiological studies linking them to the development of colorectal cancer. Hot dogs and deli meat are a familiar sight at coin shows that are better off avoided if you are concerned about your health.
- Get in as much walking as possible without overdoing it. Coin shows are also an opportunity for exercising, as a great deal of time spent at them is on your feet traveling from various tables. You can also carve out time for a walk in the early morning or after the
boursecloses. Hobby ambassador Clifford Mishler is famous for his daily constitutionals, described in detail in his Numismatic News columns.
- Get plenty of sleep. You’re less likely to overindulge throughout the following day, and you’ll have more energy to do what you want to do as well.
- Substitute sugary and high-calorie drinks for water, tea, and black coffee. All that walking at coin shows can get you dehydrated quickly, especially if you’re going to one in the summer or you’re traveling to a warmer climate like the shows in Orlando or Long Beach. Filling yourself up with a beverage can also delay your hunger.
- If you are worried about not having any healthy food options on the bourse or on the road, try packing your lunch and snacks before heading out. At least you’ll know what you’re eating! Using Google Maps to scout the area for healthy local restaurants beforehand is another handy tactic if you are trying to eat with friends or colleagues. If you have a long drive ahead of you, plan to stop every two hours or so to stretch your legs.
- If you do stop on your way home, for security purposes stay aware of your surroundings and don’t make yourself an easy target for robbers (who rarely have their marks’ good health in mind).
- Wash your hands frequently and before eating. You don’t have to be a hypochondriac to know that any public gathering with a large number of people is a breeding ground for infectious diseases. It’s no fun catching a cold or the flu if you are trying to have a good time.
- Plan your schedule. If you are a very busy person, then writing down a plan for each day or saving it to your phone is an efficient way to reduce stress and make time for healthier habits, relaxation, and socializing.
This is not an exhaustive list of things that you can do while you’re on the road or at a coin show to invest in your health, but, in general, what is good for your waist is also good for your wallet. This is especially relevant to the increasing average age of populations in developed nations and the rising average age of the hobby community. There’s no need to be a perfectionist about it either. If you want to go to a restaurant with your friends to have a good time – do it! The restaurant food may not necessarily be good for your physical health, but your mental health will benefit by enjoying yourself with people you care about. Let us know in the comments what your favorite restaurants are near any coin shows you attend and spread the word!