The Health Benefits of Volunteering

Many people perceive volunteering as an obligation to take on during national holidays or when a neighbour needs someone to take care of their pet. However, although volunteering has many obvious benefits for the community, there are also many significant perks. Consider the health benefits of volunteering the next time you wonder whether you should put your name down to make a few dozen cookies for the school bake sale.

Mental relief

Although those in need of assistance may be suffering from stress, many people who do not need help can feel even more stressed daily. Most people will need some help at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, those without funds are not the only ones who experience difficult circumstances and unsafe situations.

During these times of struggle, focus on others instead of on yourself. Channelling your negative thoughts and energy into something fun and productive can not only be a welcome distraction but also put your problems into perspective.

For example, losing a promotion may not seem as devastating as losing a family’s home. When other challenges in your life occur, you can look forward to them—they may motivate you to involve yourself in wonderful activities with newfound friends.

Lowers blood pressure

While many view volunteer projects as a hassle due to deadlines and time commitments, helping others allows for exciting relaxation, and volunteering can lower blood pressure.

Harvard Medical School researchers claim that this health benefit comes from volunteering, making the inactive take on a more active lifestyle.

A Harvard analysis of a Carnegie Mellon study has examined the number of hours required for volunteers to receive health benefits, and there is fierce debate about the precise number. However, both universities see a measurable drop in blood pressure for volunteers.

Improves cognitive function

Although volunteers are not limited by age, many are limited by busy schedules. Therefore, many volunteers are often retired or established enough in their careers to take time off for community projects. In addition, dementia and other health challenges that can impair brain function may be warded off by volunteering.

Some studies have shown that dementia patients who learn a new language have less severe symptoms. If this is true, then sites like Lumosity Brain Games are onto something.

Stimulating brain function can act as preventative care, and volunteer projects engage the mind through scheduling, planning, and organizing activities. Volunteering may be a great source of activity for those who have left the workplace to maintain and improve cognitive function.

Lengthens your life

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteering can lengthen your life span—there is a lower mortality rate among those who volunteer.

As stated above, volunteering can lead to a reduction of your stress levels, and this may influence lifespan. However, why volunteers enjoy longer, lives still needs to be determined.

These people may want to live longer due to finding a new purpose. Another possibility could be that volunteers are somehow rewarded for their work worldwide. Regardless of the reason, it is evident that volunteering somehow boosts people’s lifespans.

The health benefits of volunteering provide additional motivation for those considering volunteer work. However, the real motivation should constantly be improving other lives.

Those who need the most help will appreciate the volunteers who are excited to participate, and a smile of relief from any stranger is enough to encourage you to dedicate more time to a selfless cause.

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