Saturday, August 30, 2014


Genealogy is a wonderful hobby, but unfortunately it is a sedentary activity.  Admit it—you spend hours at the computer each day chasing ancestors. I confess to this offense.  If we don’t add some activity into our daily routines, we will become one of the ancestors on our trees.

What to do?  How do you add exercise to your day when you love to be at the computer, at the library poring through books or at the archive looking at documents?

Here are some steps I have taken or plan to take to become more active.


Buy a pedometer. Remember to wear it as soon as you start your day. Many sources recommend 10,000 steps a day, but that number needs to be adjusted depending on your age and physical condition. Click here for more information on this.  You may be shocked when you realize that you don’t even approach 10,000 steps a day. That’s okay. You want to work up gradually to higher numbers.  If you have health issues, you should discuss the plan with your doctor.


Set a timer or buy an hourglass, and be sure to get up at least once an hour and walk around.  Get a drink of water. Walk up and down the stairs. Stretch. Not only will this improve your health, but it will improve your alertness.  When you sit down again, you may have a new thought on how to research that troublesome ancestor.


Play games. When you first wake up, stand tall and wave your arms over your head as if you were a mature, leafy tree.   If you discover a military record for an ancestor when you are doing computer research, get up and march around the room 10 times. If a family has 12 children, stand up and slowly raise your arms 12 times.  I’m sure you can think of other reasons to move.


Many of us like to sit and watch “genealogy” television shows, such as Finding Your Roots or Who Do You Think You Are?. During the commercials, get up and walk around the house. 


I listen to podcasts, radio shows and webinars on my iPad while I am doing chores around the house. The iPad can be easily moved as I walk around. Some of my favorite free podcasts are:
  • YouTube ( Just do a search for genealogy or family history and you will find hours of listening enjoyment.

There are also many webinars and videos that come with subscriptions, such as:

There are many more, but this should keep you busy for a while.


When I am walking on the treadmill, I wear headphones and listen to podcasts on my iPod.


Organize your office.  My office tends to get cluttered especially if I have been on the road at conferences.  Take some time to organize all the books, handouts and other treasures you have accumulated.  You will be moving your muscles, and at the same time you will be rewarded with a more organized work area.


Start using research plans and other tools that make you more efficient. Don’t waste your precious time re-researching the same information.  If you track your work properly, you will know where you have been and where you need to go next.  You will be rewarded with more free time away from the computer.


Explore a graveyard.  Walking through cemeteries is good exercise.  Or visit a “genealogy-oriented” museum. I recently spent many hours walking around the wonderful Chicago History Museum.


Reassess your priorities. Cut back on the number of times you check Facebook and Twitter. If you are a daily blogger, you might want to think about blogging only once or twice a week.  Don’t put yourself under constant pressure to crank out a new blog each day.  

So those are some ideas I am implementing. If you have health problems, check with your doctor. Remember to drink lots of fluid too.  Let’s all stay healthy so we can enjoy our genealogy habit for many years.


Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "1100 Pictorial Symbols," 2007.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "Decorative Silhouettes," 2003.


“How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health” by Tudor-Locke C, Bassett DR Jr., Sports Med. 2004; 34(1):1-8. Review, PMID: 14715035 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE], National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine ( accessed 26 Aug 2014).