You may already know that doing good feels good. Studies show that volunteering and serving others provides important health benefits as well.
“Volunteering makes the heart grow stronger,” said David Eisner, past CEO of The Corporation for National & Community Service. “More than 61 million Americans volunteer to improve conditions for people in need and to unselfishly give of themselves. While the motivation is altruistic, it is gratifying to learn that their efforts are returning considerable health benefits.”
According to Dr. Stephen Post, a bioethicist and author of author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People, research backs it up.
“There is now a convergence of research leading to the conclusion that helping others makes people happier and healthier,” Post said.
Here are some findings about the benefits of volunteering:
- Older volunteers are most likely to receive greater health benefits from volunteering. Benefits include improved physical and mental health.
- Volunteering leads to greater life satisfaction and lower rates of depression. Volunteering has a positive effect on psychological factors, such as a personal sense of purpose and the ability to buffer stress.
- Individuals who volunteer live longer. Several studies show that those individuals who volunteer have lower mortality rates. Researchers also found that when patients with chronic or serious illness volunteer, they receive benefits beyond what can be achieved through medical care.
- State volunteer rates are strongly connected with the physical health of that state’s population. When comparing states, a general trend shows that health problems are more prevalent in states where volunteer rates are lowest.
- You can learn more about Post’s views on volunteering in “It’s Good to Be Good,” a 20-minute Tedx Talks presentation.
“There is now a convergence of research leading to the conclusion that helping others makes people happier and healthier,” said Dr. Stephen Post, a bioethicist and author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People.