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December 3, 2015

Surprising health benefits of volunteering

It may seem obvious that people who volunteer feel a sense of gratification and fulfillment when helping others, but the positive effects of volunteerism go far beyond the warm and fuzzy feelings. Recent studies have shown that volunteerism can actually change your health for the better.

The 2013 study, “Doing Good is Good for You,” implemented by UnitedHealth Group, Optimum Health Institute, and Mashable, confirmed that volunteering and good health go hand-in-hand. Of the participants in the study, 76 percent said that volunteering has made them feel healthier, and 80 percent felt they had control over their health while volunteering.

But the health effects of volunteerism don’t stop there. Volunteering has substantial benefits for people’s careers and relationships, but most importantly, physical, mental, and emotional health.

Mental health

Volunteering has proven to have positive effects on mental health. In their daily lives, 78 percent of people felt that their volunteer work helped to lower their stress level and 94 percent noticed an improved mood as a result of their volunteering. Another study found that mentally stimulating volunteer activities in particular, like tutoring or reading with children, can build the volunteer’s memory and thinking skills.

Emotional health

Emotional health allows you to lead an emotionally secure and relaxed life, and is another facet of a person’s life where volunteering can have positive influences. Ninety-six percent of those involved in the 2013 study said volunteering enriched their sense of purpose in life, and 95 percent said they felt their work was helping to make their community a better place. Through volunteer work, people can build a stronger connection to their community and the people around them.

Lifelong benefits

No matter what age you are when you start volunteering, your time spent giving back to others can have lifelong benefits on your happiness and even life expectancy. A study performed at the University of Exeter Medical School found that people who volunteer have a 20 percent lower risk of death than people who do not volunteer. It is also associated with lower levels of depression, increased satisfaction with life, and enhanced well-being.

From physical and emotional well-being to long-term life satisfaction, the health benefits of volunteering can change your life for the better. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up to volunteer with Reading Partners, and watch your health improve with every session!

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