Resolving for a healthy 2020? Talking to your family is a great way to start

(BPT) - An estimated 130 million Americans make resolutions for 2020 — with more than half of them focused on health. However, most resolutions are broken by February.

Marjan Champine, a board-certified and licensed genetic counselor at Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, shares tips for thinking about your health in 2020:

1. Small choices matter for a healthier you in the New Year.

Day in and day out, the small choices we make can end up making a big difference in how we feel and our overall health. The journey to better health can be as simple as to:

  • Find new, fun ways to exercise regularly
  • Eat more vegetables and fewer fried foods
  • Practice meditation and take time for self-care
  • Talk to your relatives about your family history and risk factors
  • Find a primary care provider, if you don’t already have one, and go in for routine checkups as recommended

2. Talking to your family can unlock valuable insights into your health.

Understanding your family’s health history and screening for common genetic conditions can provide information about some potential health risks. Armed with this information, there are powerful choices and actions you can take to improve your health, and your family’s health, now and in the future.

You don’t need to be alone in trying to make sense out of all of this. Genetic counselors can help you connect the dots of your family health history and the results of genetic health screening tests. Services like those offered by Ancestry, which recently launched AncestryHealth, can also empower you with genetic insights to put you on the path to a better, healthier you. When you and your health care provider know more about your risks for certain conditions, that’s the start on the path toward better health.

3. Your genes don’t need to be your destiny.

While genetics plays an important role in our health, the daily choices we make about our activity, sleep, nutrition and how we handle stress can also play a role in our quest for better health.

Because families share genetics — as well as other health-related risk factors such as diet, lifestyle and environment — family history is again important in this regard. Most people understand the health benefits of a good diet and exercise. But what’s often overlooked is the importance of knowing your family’s health history. By sharing your family health history in addition to any genetic health test results with your health care provider, you can work together to create a personalized plan of action to treat, manage and, in some cases, even prevent certain diseases.

4. Specific, achievable, actionable and enjoyable.

I am always looking for fun ways to improve my health. As part of that goal, my resolution this year is to spend more quality time with my family, share stories about our history and keep a record of our health history all in one place using AncestryHealth’s family health history tool.

If you haven’t made a New Year’s health resolution yet, think of a goal that’s specific, actionable and achievable. Also think of goals that can be achieved in ways you enjoy.

5. The time is now.

Now is the perfect time to jump in and begin tackling your 2020 New Year’s health resolutions. Your family health history and genetic screening results could unlock important information that will allow you to manage your health.

The more you know about your genetic risk factors, including your family health history, the more you can take proactive steps, in collaboration with your health care provider. Taking this information and sharing it with your health care provider is important so that, together, you can create a personalized plan of action for a healthier 2020.

Marjan Champine is a board-certified and licensed genetic counselor at Ancestry with a passion for family, health and helping others.

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