Giving, for Your Health

Giving for your Health
IMG: via Shutterstock

We already know that helping others feels good, but new research provides evidence that philanthropy also provides very real health benefits. In Leslie Goldman’s “4 Amazing Health Benefits of Helping Others,” she details the physical advantages associated with humanitarian work. Here are four more fantastic reasons to help others:

  1. You’ll Lengthen Your Lifespan. “A 2013 review of 40 international studies suggests that volunteering can add years to your life – with some evidence pointing to a 22 percent reduction in mortality,” explains Goldman. Happily, studies reveal that you can start adding years to your life at any time; the health benefits of philanthropy are applicable to people of all ages.
  2. You’ll Experience Greater Happiness. Goldman explains how doing things for others triggers the reward center in your brain to pump out dopamine, creating what researchers call a “helper’s high.” Basically, doing good deeds, donating money, and volunteering your time can give you a literal boost of happiness!
  3. You’ll Be Better Equipped to Manage Pain. Studies have shown that “on a scale of 0 to 10, people’s average pain ratings dropped from nearly a 6 to below 4 after volunteer training and six months of leading discussion groups for pain sufferers,” indicating a correlation between volunteerism and pain management. Offering emotional support, donating time, or funds, has been proven to benefit those already in physical pain.
  4. You’ll Have Lower Blood Pressure. “A 2013 study in the Journal of Psychology and Aging revealed that adults over the age of 50 who reported volunteering at least 200 hours in the past year were 40 percent less likely than non-volunteers to have developed hypertension four years later,” explains Goldman. Essentially, those who volunteered roughly four hours per week reported having lower blood pressure than those who hadn’t. Who knew volunteering could be so good for your health?

Make a New Year’s resolution to become a better humanitarian; it will benefit your community, as well as your health!