Volunteering makes an immeasurable difference in the lives of others. But did you know how much you help yourself by giving back? From lowering stress to boosting self-confidence, volunteering offers many health benefits—especially for older adults.
Just search the web: There are over 19 million hits for articles on how doing good helps people lead better, healthier lives. Start reaping these mental and physical health benefits today:
- Decrease your risk of depression. Volunteering with and for others increases social interaction and helps build a support system based on common commitment and interests—both of which have been shown to decrease depression.
- Enjoy a sense of purpose and fulfillment—and increase your self-confidence while you’re at it!
- Stay physically and mentally active. A study released by Johns Hopkins University in 2009 revealed that volunteers actually increased their brain functioning. Volunteer activities get you moving and thinking at the same time.
- Reduce stress levels. By savoring your time spent in service to others, you’ll feel a sense of meaning and appreciation—both given and received—which can be calming.
- Experience “The Happiness Effect.” You know that feel-good sense you get after a vigorous workout? It comes from a release of dopamine in the brain. Helping others has that exact same effect—so the more you volunteer, the happier you become!
- Live longer. In 2002, doctors studied more than 6,300 retired persons over 65 and found that the volunteers among them had less than half the risk of dying compared with non-volunteers. Give back and enjoy a longer, more fulfilled life!
- Find global opportunities. Volunteering can open up opportunities to go abroad, as many organizations and programs put on “voluntourism” trips across the globe. Traveling spurs physical activity and mental planning while providing you different perspectives—literally and figuratively—on life.
Get active now!
Ready to start experiencing these health benefits? We make it easy! Try volunteering at summer camps, coaching a sport or exploring other ideas in our Get Active, Get Outdoors article.
Every Volunteer Act Counts!
Keep track of—and get rewarded—for your service with the Rewards Volunteers app, created by Cabot Creamery, a Create the Good community partner. Each hour you log in the app gives you another chance to win prizes for yourself or the organization where you volunteer. And since your hours also post to Facebook, each “like” also increases your chances to win. Download the app now.
AARP's Experience Corps
Participants in AARP’s Experience Corps—an organization that trains adults age 55+ to tutor children—reported improvements in mental health and physical functioning, as well as a delay in the onset of age-related health problems, according to recent research. Participants also reported higher self-esteem and connectivity with others.