The re­la­tion­ship be­tween health and vol­un­teer­ing

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Seniors -

Vol­un­teer­ing is often its own re­ward. Help­ing oth­ers can be just as ben­e­fi­cial to the peo­ple do­ing the help­ing as it is for the peo­ple be­ing helped. Though it can some­times be hard to find time to vol­un­teer, a close look at some of the var­i­ous health ben­e­fits of vol­un­teer­ing may com­pel adults and chil­dren alike to find the time they need to vol­un­teer.

Vol­un­teer­ing and hap­pi­ness

Vet­eran vol­un­teers may have long sus­pected they’re hap­pier when they vol­un­teer, and research sug­gests that’s true. A study from re­searchers at the London School of Eco­nom­ics that was pub­lished in the jour­nal So­cial Sci­ence and Medicine found that the more peo­ple vol­un­teered, the hap­pier they were. The re­searchers com­pared peo­ple who never vol­un­teered to peo­ple who did, find­ing that the odds of be­ing “very happy” rose by 7 per­cent among peo­ple who vol­un­teered monthly. Those odds in­creased by 12 per­cent among peo­ple who vol­un­teered ev­ery two to four weeks.

Vol­un­teer­ing and men­tal health

Psy­chol­o­gists have long known that so­cial in­ter­ac­tion can im­prove men­tal health. Psy­chol­ogy To­day notes that in­ter­act­ing with oth­ers de­creases feel­ings of de­pres­sion while in­creas­ing feel­ings of well-be­ing. Vol­un­teer­ing is a great way to meet new peo­ple, ex­pos­ing vol­un­teers to peo­ple with shared in­ter­ests. That can be es­pe­cially valu­able to peo­ple who are new to a com­mu­nity, help­ing them to avoid feel­ings of lone­li­ness af­ter mov­ing to an area where they have no pre­ex­ist­ing so­cial net­work.

Vol­un­teer­ing and long-term health

Vol­un­teer­ing that re­quires so­cial in­ter­ac­tion can pro­duce long-term health ben­e­fits that can have a pro­found im­pact on qual­ity of life as men and women age. A re­cent study pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Alzheimer’s Dis­ease fo­cused on par­tic­i­pants with­out de­men­tia who were in­volved in a highly in­ter­ac­tive dis­cus­sion group. Re­searchers com­pared those par­tic­i­pants to oth­ers who par­tic­i­pated in Tai Chi or walk­ing or were part of a control group that did not re­ceive any in­ter­ven­tions. The for­mer group ex­hib­ited im­proved cog­ni­tive func­tion, and MRIs in­di­cated they in­creased their brain vol­umes af­ter be­ing in­volved in the dis­cus­sion group. Larger brain vol­ume has been linked to a lower risk of de­men­tia. Many vol­un­teer­ing opportunit­ies re­quire routine in­ter­ac­tion with oth­ers, po­ten­tially pro­vid­ing sig­nif­i­cant, long-term health ben­e­fits as a re­sult.

While vol­un­teer­ing is a self­less act, vol­un­teers may be ben­e­fit­ting in ways that can im­prove their lives in both the short- and long-term.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.