Sure, we all know volunteering is good for your emotional health, but is it also good for your physical health? The emotional benefits have been studied and proven. “Studies have shown that volunteering helps people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression,” writes Stephanie Watson, the Executive Editor of Harvard Women’s Health Watch. Just as true as volunteering is good for your emotional health, research is showing that it also has a positive impact on your physical health.
Volunteering improves physical health by lowering your blood pressure, giving you longer life, and it has shown to help with cholesterol. It’s important to note that a person’s motive for volunteering must be truly altruistic. Otherwise, it has been shown to have no positive effect on physical health or emotional health.
Volunteering lowers blood pressure by two main ways: the increase of physical activity, and by reducing stress. Many volunteer programs offer a way to get some physical activity. Extreme Community Makeover, no doubt, gets the body moving and offers plenty of physical exercise with our outdoor home improvement projects. Volunteering also reduces your stress because it can make you feel like you have a purpose. “By savoring your time spent in service to others, you’ll feel a sense of meaning and appreciation—both given and received—which can be calming,” states Create the Good – AARP. Volunteering also has the “feel good effect” with the release of dopamine to the brain. The more you volunteer, the happier you are. These positive emotions have a positive effect on your physical well-being.
People who volunteer with some regularity live longer too. Social Science and Medicine recommends that volunteering should be used for health care maintenance and especially in elderly patients. There was a study done in 2002, conducted by doctors who studied more than 6,300 retired persons over 65, that found that the volunteers among them had less than half the risk of dying compared with non-volunteers. Volunteering is also good for increasing mental activity, stamina, and functional ability in older adults. In fact, older adults can benefit the most from volunteering.
Yes, it’s true. Older adults benefit greatly from volunteering, but let’s not forget the youngins. A study done in Canada showed that high school kids who volunteered, on a regular basis, had lost weight and their cholesterol levels improved, as opposed to their non-volunteering peers.
So, there you have it. Giving your time to others, does the body good! It raises your mood and gives you a sense of purpose. These positive emotions impact your physical health in ways that science is now confirming, and still learning about. Lending a helping hand, truly gives your body an extra boost.