Fitness & Nutrition

The Surprising Benefits of Volunteering

By on 04/13/2017

When you volunteer in your community, you get the satisfaction of knowing you’re making a difference in the lives of others. In addition to that satisfaction, you might be surprised to find out that you may also reap a host of other benefits.

Volunteering keeps you physically active, socially connected and mentally stimulated. It can also add meaning to your life and may even improve your health and well-being.

Research over the past two decades points to a relationship between volunteering and better health, indicating that people who volunteer have greater functional ability, lower rates of depression later in life and lower mortality rates than those who don’t volunteer. Older volunteers are more likely to get the most benefits from volunteering.

People who volunteer report:

  • Higher levels of happiness
  • Stronger self-esteem
  • Greater satisfaction with their lives
  • A sense of control over their lives
  • More energy

Although the research doesn’t clearly identify whether volunteering causes these benefits or if people who are more likely to volunteer already enjoy better physical or mental health overall, here are some of the benefits you may experience when you volunteer. Volunteering can:

  • Connect you to others
  • Help you gain new skills
  • Boost your spirits
  • Keep your mind sharper
  • Increase your self-confidence
  • Help you sleep better
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Lower blood pressure

This is good for your body, heart and mind.

So if you’re looking to do good for others while you also do something good for yourself at the same time, volunteer. You don’t need any special skills or experience. Just find something you’re enthusiastic about doing, make sure it fits into your life in a way you feel comfortable with and bring along a positive attitude.

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Review Date: March 09, 2017
Reviewed By: Perry Pitkow, MD
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