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Published on April 11, 2017

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The surprising benefits of volunteering

If you volunteer, you not only help others but may also enjoy these health benefits.

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.

Copyright 2017 © Baldwin Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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