Volunteering is a powerful way to improve your community, but did you know volunteering improves your health too? Aristotle once said “to serve others and do good” is the essence of life, and now modern research is showing that serving others can also be the essence of good health.
Here are 5 ways volunteering improves your health:
1. Decreases anxiety and depression.
Working with others for a greater cause increases social interaction, releases feel-good dopamine and oxytocin, and nurtures a “greater purpose” in life. All of these are known to improve mental health and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression.
2. Reduces risk of heart disease.
Did you know, people who volunteer are far less likely to develop high blood pressure and heart disease than their non-volunteering peers? Studies show that it takes as little as 100 hours of volunteer work per year to have an effect
3. Improves brain function.
Volunteering doesn’t only enhance mental and physical health, it helps enhance brain function too. According to one study released by Johns Hopkins University, people who volunteered actually increased their brain functioning over time.
4. Increases physical activity.
Whether it’s walking shelter dogs or participating at a community garden, volunteering on a regular basis increases physical activity. For those over the age of 60, this kind of physical activity, even if it seems minimal, can have a huge impact on overall health.
5. Increases life span.
Health benefits of volunteering, including reduced blood pressure and increased physical activity, can make such a difference on overall health that they can even lead to an increased life span. In one recent study of more than 6,300 retirees over age 65, doctors found that those who volunteered reduced their risk of dying by over half compared to their peers.
Photo by katerha