Why Volunteering is a Healthy Habit to Start

Julie Bitely

| 2 min read

Man reading to a classroom of kids.
Could doing good, be good for you?
If you regularly volunteer, you’re likely already aware of the power your time can have in making your community a better place. The recipients of your volunteer hours are the true beneficiaries of the time you spend working as a reading tutor, helping out at a food pantry, or sorting used clothing items for a shelter.
Still, it turns out that volunteering is not only great for your community, but it can also improve your health the more you do it.
A number of studies have examined the link between volunteering and better health, especially in older populations. Overall, people who volunteer regularly have less depression, lower mortality rates, and greater functional ability.
It’s not hard to see why. Volunteering can help you feel more connected to your community and widen your social circle, helping to fend off depression and loneliness.
One study of older adults showed that those who regularly volunteered were less likely to develop hypertension, or high blood pressure. Since that’s a leading cause of heart disease and stroke, volunteers could also expect to live longer.
Volunteering in your community is a good thing, no question. However, you might want to choose volunteer opportunities you truly care about. In another study, people’s motivation for volunteering had an impact on mortality rates. Volunteers sacrificing their time for altruistic reasons had a lower mortality risk, while those with self-serving purposes had mortality rates similar to non-volunteers.
Where can you make a difference in your community? Make your services available to a cause that speaks to your heart and enjoy the potential health perks that come with it! Here are some ideas on where you can volunteer in your community.
Are you a regular volunteer? Share your stories with us below!
Photo credit: Presidio of Monterey

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