Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Volunteering for Good Health

Good news – for older volunteers, helping others improves their health.  According to a new study, by helping others, volunteers may also be helping themselves. 

A review of recent research has found a significant connection between volunteering and good health, such as greater longevity, higher functional ability, and lower rates of depression and less incidence of heart disease.  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.

Research suggests that volunteering is particularly beneficial to the health of older adults and those serving 100 hours annually.  According to the report:

  • A study of adults age 65 and older found that the positive effect of volunteering on physical and mental health is due to the personal sense of accomplishment an individual gains from his or her volunteer activities.  
  • Another study found that volunteering led to lower rates of depression in individuals 65 and older.  
  • A Duke study found that individuals who volunteered after experiencing heart attacks reported reductions in despair and depression – two factors that have been linked to mortality in post coronary artery disease.  
  • An analysis of data found that individuals over 70 who volunteered approximately 100 hours had fewer declines in self-reported health and functional levels, experiencing lower levels of depression and had more longevity.  
  • Two studies found that the volunteering threshold is about 100 hours per year, or about two hours a week.  Individuals who reached the threshold enjoyed significant health benefits, although there were not additional benefits beyond the 100-hour mark.
This is good news for people who volunteer. Just two hours of volunteering a week can bring meaningful benefits to a person’s body and mind.  For volunteer opportunities at The Dale Association, please visit: or call us at 716-433-1886.

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