(CARLSBAD, CA) – You watch what you eat. You exercise regularly. You minimize stress. But, you may still have unknown risk factors for serious health maladies if you don’t know your family health history.
The truth is that you’ve inherited far more than your mother’s apple pie recipe or your father’s brown eyes. Common illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, tend to run in families. In fact, family health knowledge is so important that the U.S. Surgeon General has launched the Family History Initiative to encourage all Americans to learn more about their family medical history. Try these three simple steps to learn your family health history and preserve your wellness.
- Do your research. The first step in learning your risk factors for major, and minor, illnesses is to research what infirmities have affected other members of your family. So, don your detective cap and start asking questions. Talk to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings. Learn at what age your relatives passed away and for what reason. If you don’t have the option of interviewing your family members, then try looking at birth or death certificates, baby books, or hospital medical records to learn more about your medical family ties.
- Look for trends. Once you have compiled a list of your family’s health history, then look for trends. The Medical Genetics Clinic at the University of Washington suggests paying close attention to anything that has developed in more than one family member prior to age 50. Judi Sheppard Missett, founder and CEO of Jazzercise, Inc., recommends that you keep a detailed log of your family history, so that you can easily find trends that have occurred in your family line.
- Share your findings. Unless your research reveals that you’ve won the gene pool lottery, chances are that you will need to take some proactive steps to protect yourself against the health concerns that have plagued other members of your family. Talk to your primary care doctor about your research results. Ask your doctor if you should have any screening tests earlier or more frequently than the typical recommendations. For example, if Aunt Betty and Uncle David both suffer from diabetes, then perhaps you should take a prediabetes test.
Family medical history is too important to be ignored. So, take a few simple steps to create a health-based family tree. Ask questions, keep records, and open the communication lines with your doctor about your family health history.
Jazzercise, created by Judi Sheppard Missett, is the world's leading dance-fitness program with more than 7,500 instructors teaching 32,000 classes weekly in the U.S. and around the globe. Since 1969, millions of people of all ages and fitness levels have reaped the benefits of this comprehensive program, designed to enhance cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. For more information on Jazzercise go to jazzercise.com or call (800)FIT-IS-IT or (760)476-1750.