A national survey on volunteering found that an overwhelming majority of volunteers reported feeling mentally and physically healthier after a volunteer experience, and that volunteers have better personal scores than non-volunteers on measures of emotional well-being including personal independence, capacity for rich interpersonal relationships and overall satisfaction with life. This survey found that:
- 76% of people said volunteering made them feel healthier
- 94% said volunteering improved their mood
- 96% reported volunteering enriched their sense of purpose in life
- About a quarter reported that their volunteer work helped them manage a chronic illness by keeping them active and taking their minds off of their own problems
Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School in the south of England analyzed data from 40 published studies and found evidence that volunteers had a 20% lower risk of death than their peers who do not volunteer. The study also found that volunteers had lower levels of loneliness and depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being.
Have you ever heard someone say that they often get more out of a volunteer experience than they gave? It's because volunteering is just plain good for your health.
Evidence of volunteerism’s physical effects can be found in a recent study from Carnegie Mellon University, published in Psychology and Aging. Adults over age 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. High blood pressure is an important indicator of health because it contributes to heart disease, stroke, and premature death. This study also found that:
- 78 percent of volunteers said that volunteering lowered their stress levels.
- Mentally stimulating activities, like tutoring or reading, might be helpful for maintaining memory and thinking skills.
- Before volunteering, more than 50 percent of participants said they had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and 23.5 percent reported symptoms of depression.
- By the program’s completion, only 43 percent showed signs of PTSD and just 15 percent still had signs of depression.
If anyone ever needed another good reason to go out and help others, all the research showing the health benefits for volunteering should cause a rush on nonprofits everywhere. Get out there! You'll be happier and live longer. Bonus!