Volunteer and live well
Volunteering is one of the most rewarding things you can do. From improving our health and happiness to promoting a sense of belonging, boosting mood and developing friendships, the case for volunteering keeps building. Here are some surprising reasons why volunteering doesn’t just benefit other people, it will improve your own wellbeing too.
Studies have shown that those who volunteer have a similar physical experience to people who exercise vigorously or meditate. How? Your body releases endorphins during positive social contact with others. The only catch? To get the benfits of the helper’s high, your volunteering needs to involve direct contact with other people and must be altruistic – without a selfish motivator like money involved.
Studies indicate that adults over 50 who volunteer regularly are less likely to have problems with high blood pressure than non-volunteers. This benefit has been linked to the increase in physical activity in people who’d otherwise be inactive as well as the reduction in stress that volunteers experience.
Volunteering is a great way to build healthy relationships and to meet new people. It also gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills and exposes you to people with similar interests.
Some research has shown that people who volunteer may be at lower risk of dementia from 65 years on. Studies from the Journal of Gerontology indicate that volunteering improves elasticity in the brain. As volunteers age, they may be able to maintain the connections in their brains that often break down in Alzheimer’s patients. Any social interaction can help delay or prevent Alzheimer’s, and volunteering can be a wonderful way to do that.
Visit Volunteering Victoria for ideas on how you can get involved.