5 Health Benefits of Volunteering at an Animal Rescue

A Healthier Michigan

| 3 min read

The joy and affection that animals bring can cheer you up, calm you down, and keep your attention focused on the moment. Not everyone can have a pet at home, and even if you do, you may find volunteering at a local animal rescue to be a rewarding experience. Listed below are five ways that spending time volunteering at an animal rescue or animal shelter can improve your mood and overall health.

1. Time spent around pets can improve mental health and lower stress.

Interacting with animals and pets can decrease cortisol levels and stress. According to the National Institute of Health, studies have found that time spent with animals can lower loneliness and boost your mood. Even time spent watching fish swim can be calming – the time around animals doesn’t always have to be with the usual furry friends.

2. Time spent around animals can improve cardiovascular health.

Animal companionship can lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and cortisol levels. Time spent with animals also lowers psychological and physical stress. Higher levels of time spent with pets are also correlated with lower levels of cardiovascular diseases, which has to do with the decreased stress levels reported from spending time with animals.

3. There are mental health benefits from volunteering.

Volunteering in general, not only with animals, can affect your mood and mental health in positive ways. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, volunteering can reduce stress, increase happiness, boost confidence, and help with a sense of self and purpose. Volunteering can help you to determine strengths or unique skills you may not have known you had. It can also help to build social wellness and a social network of support.

4. There are benefits to social wellness and overall well-being.

Volunteering in and of itself can boost your overall health, as well. Volunteering can help alleviate chronic stress, which is a risk factor for many diseases and health problems. A 2020 study found that those studied who volunteered 100 hours a year or more had a reduced risk of death than those who did not, over a four-year period. According to the American Heart Association, volunteering can result in increased physical activity and lowered reports of loneliness.

5. Time with animals can be effective for building focus and emotional awareness for children.

Pets or time with animals can be effective for building social and emotional maturity and help to build focus for kids. Emotional and social benefits from spending time with animals are being studied for kids with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to the NIH. Spending time with animals can help children to learn social play and emotional awareness.

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