Most people know if they eat good, exercise, and avoid smoking will have a far better chance of a longer and healthier life. However, your doctor may not have mentioned that when you volunteer to give to other people can actually be added to your what makes you healthy checklist.
Forty Different Studies
A medical paper by Dr. Richards and some of her colleagues from the University of Exeter Med. School in the UK includes interesting information about volunteer work. They got together and reviewed a good amount of studies that have taken place over the last 20 years on how volunteer work enhances one’s health.
Most of these studies compared volunteers to those who didn’t do volunteer work. The studies followed these subjects over time and then checked in with them a few years later to see how well they were doing. This type of method is very useful in trying to understand the effects on health from different behaviors like taking vitamins, smoking or eating certain foods. It turns out that volunteer work just like other behaviors studied does have a positive impact on one’s life.
Even though the results published in this paper show positive results, they are still cautious to warn that only general conclusions should be made from them and more studies should be done.
Research Has Discovered Some Benefits
Researchers through their studies do believe that there are benefits that come with volunteer work based on why it could be good for your health to do volunteer work.
Activity is Good for You
All things that keep you active are good for you. When you volunteer you get yourself up off the couch and leaving your home. This means you are made more physically fit and even stronger. People who are in better physical condition often deal with stress much better. This in itself can help you live a longer life.
Having Social Connections is Healthy
Having social connections can also be a good thing. We are social people, it is part of who we are and having face to face contact with others is important. It’s important that we experience the touch of others, smiles and eye contact. These types of interactions will release oxytocin which is a hormone that helps all of us to care for and bond with others. It also can help us to cope with stress much better. Volunteer work is also a very good way of meeting other people, making new friends, and bond with others over the common goals and beliefs we might share.
Volunteer Work Adds Joy
Volunteer work simply feels good and it is rewarding. By volunteering most people feel a deep sense of joy and happiness. When we have these feelings this can help us live longer and have much healthier lives.
Who Can Benefit From Volunteer Work?
Previous research has found that volunteer work will only bring health benefits for those who do the volunteer work to help others in need instead of doing it to help themselves out. This is why it’s important that a person only does volunteer work for a cause they deeply believe in and touches their heart in some way.
Research has also shown that volunteer work often tends to be better for people who are religious. This could be because by doing volunteer work it affirms their religious beliefs that it is important to serve and help others in need.
Word of Warning
Even though volunteering seems to be a way of feeling better and having a healthier life, some researchers believe that volunteering too much can actually be harmful for some people. By volunteering too much it might become a drain on a person. Although there is no concrete evidence on how much might be too much, it’s important to note that if your volunteering feels like a burden then it could mean it’s time to cut back on your volunteer work.
If you do want to live a little longer, be happier and have a healthier life, make sure you are in good health before considering volunteering. It’s important to yourself and others if you share your time with those who need help and support. It could be a very caring cure for both you by volunteering and those you are lending a hand to.