Holiday shopping may be stressful, but new findings suggest that spending money on others can offer cardiovascular health benefits. The study comes from researchers at the University of British Columbia. Ashley Whillans, study author and Ph.D., student, said, “What we’ve found is some of the strongest evidence to date that spending money on others can lead to significant improvements in physical health. This is one of the first studies really showing clinically significant outcomes as a result of spending money on others.”
The study looked at 128 people over the age of 65 who had high blood pressure that spent money on others over the course of six weeks. “What we found is…the older adults diagnosed with high blood pressure who spent money on others showed significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure over the course of the study,” Whillans explained. “These results were almost at the same magnitude as starting a new exercise program.”
The researchers also analyzed data from 186 seniors with high blood pressure from a U.S. study and found that the more money seniors spent on others, the lower their blood pressure was two years later.
“We find again evidence that spending money on others seems to be linked to greater heart health in this totally different sample,” Whillans added.
The researchers found that giving to others offers protective elements against stress, which can have positive results on blood pressure. Those who received the highest benefits were those who spent money on people who were closest to them. Further research aims to explore the health benefits of donating and charity.
The findings are published in Health Psychology.
Also read: Group therapy effectively promotes cardiovascular health