Could it be? Could volunteering really benefit your health? Well, according to Mayo Clinic
, Stephen Post
, director of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, and The Corporation for National and Community Service
volunteering not only makes you happier, but increases your life span, lowers your rate for heart disease, and gives you higher functional ability. Now, I'm sure some of you are saying "perfect, where do I sign up?" but there is a bit of a catch. For all of this to be effective one needs to put in about 40 to 100 hours a year, thats about 2 hours a week. Though, I'm sure we can all set aside two hours a week to better our health.
Researchers do believe that age has a factor in the benefits you receive through volunteer work. These major studies that have been done tend to focus on elder individuals noticing a significant increase in their health. Younger volunteer participants seem to benefit less. It is believed that these results are due to older volunteers experiencing greater increases in life satisfaction, which produces oxytocin, providing defense to the immune system. These "helping highs" that we get as a result of volunteering can also act as a de-stresser as well.
From personal experience I can say that volunteering can give you a new sense of purpose and keep you active. I have even come to find that through volunteer work I can meet a variety of new people that I typically wouldn't. I can see why the elder community tends to benefit more through volunteer work as it gives them a sense of accomplishment when they don't have a job or children to fulfill that need. When people feel isolated, alone, or don't feel accomplished, it has been proved to cause depression or even other health concerns. Volunteering produces a sense of social connectedness that we all need in our lives.
So, go out there and find an organization that fits your personality and start improving your health today!
Jordan E. Merlo