In helping others, Americans are also helping themselves. A recent report links volunteering to health and longevity. It does pay to be a good neighbor and actively participate in community projects.
The Corporation for National and Community Service released the report. Better functioning ability, increased longevity, less risk of heart disease and decreased levels of depression were among the benefits of volunteering.
Those who volunteer 100 hours annually and are older adults reap the most benefits. The Health Benefits of Volunteering reveals findings from over 30 studies reviewing the relationship between volunteering and health.
Two studies concluded that volunteering 100 hours of service annually (approximately 2 hours weekly) increased benefits although donating more than 100 hours did not additionally benefit.
Heart attack victims who volunteer experience less depression and despair, two serious factors in heart disease management and survival.
Volunteers over age 65 were less depressed than non-volunteers. Volunteers over 70 years of age who volunteered 100 hours annually experienced less decline in health and functioning levels, increased longevity and less depression.
Baby Boomers who are retiring or cutting back on working hours can volunteer and receive while giving. Even two hours of volunteer work weekly result in physical and mental health benefits.
Last month, The Corporation released a report that included multiple measures on volunteering. This latest report builds on those findings. States with more volunteers report better health statistics and less mortality and heart disease.
Study results show that volunteers who provide social support to others have lower mortality rates. This applies even when controls are applied for age, gender, marital status, education and ethnicity and socioeconomic status. “It’s good to do good,” says Dr. Stephen Post.
Volunteering and community service is the new health club that’s free to join. Service can be tailored to volunteer interests and skills or simply focused on filling the current needs in the community. With the large variety of volunteer opportunities in most communities, it’s easy to work volunteering into your daily schedule, even if you want to do so at 2 a.m.
While the personal benefits of volunteering are greater for those over age 65, people of all ages do benefit from helping others.
The Corporation for National and Community Service strengthens communities, enriches lives and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering.
Over 2 million Americans of all backgrounds and ages are given opportunities to serve community and country through Americorps,
Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America.
For more information on how you can benefit by volunteering, visit http://www.nationalservice.gov.