Is getting involved in family history beneficial to your health? The short is yes. Both physically and mentally, learning about your personal family history can mean a healthier life. Of course, family history can’t cure disease, but it could potentially help you avoid it.
Good for Your Mental Health
Diving into genealogy and family history work will give you a sense of connection that you cannot find elsewhere. Studies have shown that those who have a sense of where they came from and a connection to their family live a longer and healthier life.
Being familiar with your roots gives you a sense of belonging. Knowing that you are a part of a legacy is good for your mental health. It’s the same reason multiple studies have shown that people who have kids tend to live longer—a sense of belonging and connection is good for you. It’s what we crave as humans. Family history is another source that can fill that need.
You may discover new and exciting roots in your family, even living family that you are unaware of. Digging into genealogy can mean big surprises, like meeting family members, learning about family status, similar traits, or even your family’s medical history.
Knowing your family’s medical history may help you to avoid the same problems. Many family lines can common factors in their genes, environment, and lifestyle. Medical conditions that run in the family can carry on to future generations. You may discover that you are at high risk for a stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure. Family history can also show a risk of a rarer condition caused by genetic mutations such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease.
Having this knowledge beforehand allows a person to do what they can to reduce their own risk of disease. For certain people at high risk for high blood pressure for example, they can take measures to live a lifestyle that effectively lowers blood pressure. If you find that you are at risk for certain cancer, frequent screening may help you catch a potential problem sooner rather than later.
How to Get Started
Starting your family line has never been easier. The internet makes it simple. Some of your family’s history may already be recorded online—waiting to be discovered. You can also have your DNA tested to learn more about your ethnicity and familial connections. These tests can tell you all sorts of things about your DNA!
If you are starting from ground zero, the first thing you should do is fill out a family tree. It is recommended that you do this digitally through a genealogy website, that way it will be recorded and accessible for other family members. Collecting information from living family members and digitizing it is another great way to start.
For the benefit of your health and future generations, start building out your family tree and learning about your ancestors now.