A new study is showing that volunteering could have life-extending benefits. So, if you’re looking to get involved in your community, the benefits could be far greater than expected.
Volunteering has the potential to improve the lives of others as well as yourself. On a personal level, it can lead to a greater sense of purpose, connection, and well-being,
The new study was conducted by researchers at the Center for Health and Happiness at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The results were published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
“Humans are social creatures by nature,” said Eric Kim, the study’s lead investigator. “Perhaps this is why our minds and bodies are rewarded when we give to others.”
Researches tracked 13,000 people, aged 50+, that were participating in the U.S. Health and Retirement Study. They were observed for four years between 2010 and 2016.
When people volunteered at least 100 hours per year (about two hours per week) they had a much lower risk of death and developing physical limitations than those who didn’t volunteer. They also reported higher levels of activity and greater well-being.
What’s interesting is that although the benefits of life extension, mobility, and better mental health were observed, volunteering did not show any direct impact on chronic health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, pain, and more.
The activity and fulfillment a person may acquire from volunteer work and all that it offers may be a way to manage these conditions so they take less of a toll. It is really hard to say.
There are several ways you could volunteer and get involved in a cause that serves your community or a goal that you believe in. Using your skills for change can create positive experiences for others, as well as yourself.
Because social distancing measures are still recommended, volunteering may take on a slightly different look these days. But you can still find ways to get involved with organizations you believe in, make contacts, and try to find ways to help.
If you’re looking for ways to feel better and live longer, volunteer work could be the way to go. It can help:
- Relieve stress
- Decrease the risk of depression
- Offer a sense of purpose
- Stay physically and mentally active
- Build and develop new relationships