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Volunteer for HEALth

You probably already know that volunteering benefits others and improves your community, but did you know that it can also be good for your body and your brain?

Benefits of Volunteering

For instance, studies have shown that volunteering reduces anxiety, depression, and stress by helping us develop friendships and form more social connections, both of which are linked to more life satisfaction and overall happiness. Time spent helping others also allows us to focus our attention on something besides our own worries which builds gratitude and a more optimistic perspective. Moreover, volunteering our time helps us find deeper meaning and a sense of purpose in our own lives.

Volunteering incentivizes us to get off the couch and move our bodies. Although the physical requirements for volunteer opportunities vary immensely, even more sedentary volunteer work often requires greater activity than we’re likely to get while watching TV or playing on our phones and other screen devices at home. It’s no surprise volunteers report better physical health and inner fulfillment than non-volunteers. A study in 2013 concluded that adults over age 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. Another study that focused on adolescents found that those who volunteered just an hour a week had lower cholesterol and lower body mass indexes (both of which are linked to heart health) than their non-volunteering peers.

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Ways to Get Started Volunteering

Volunteering teaches valuable skills that can help us throughout our life. For younger people, volunteering is a wonderful way to learn about careers, grasp a better understanding of jobs, and make valuable contacts. Older adults who are more established in their fields or retired often enjoy passing along their knowledge and introducing young people to their passion. Volunteering also increase motivation by providing a sense of accomplishment and increased self-worth.

There are no shortage of ways to volunteer your time, energy, and talents. Whether you’re reading to children in a library, working with animals in an animal shelter, or helping feed the hungry, staying mentally and physically busy leads to better health.

However, keep in mind one caveat: A 2012 study in the journal Health Psychology found that participants who volunteered with some regularity lived longer, but only if their intentions were truly altruistic. In other words, to truly reap the most rewards of volunteering, do it to help others, not merely to help yourself.

HEAL curricula begins and ends with the idea of becoming a HEAL Hero for others. A HEAL Hero is someone who embraces healthy behaviors and volunteers helps others too. We believe every human is a diamond of great worth. Since valuable things deserve the best of care, HEAL is dedicated to helping each person learn ways to unite and enjoy better health.