Whilst volunteering is often measured by its impact on others, an increasing body of research has pointed to the health benefits volunteering provides for its participants. In fact, one study carried out by the University of Exeter revealed that volunteers have a 20% lower risk of dying than peers who do not.
So why is volunteering so good for you? Here’s 5 unexpected health benefits of volunteering that may go some way to explaining why it’s so beneficial.
1. Reduces Loneliness and Social Isolation
The Campaign to End Loneliness says that almost 45% of the UK population admit to feeling lonely. Volunteering helps to combat loneliness and social isolation by increasing interaction with the outside world. Those who volunteer make new friends, build closer relationships, and feel a sense of belonging when forming and important part of a team.
2. Helps to Reduce Stress Levels
The act of volunteering has been increasing praised for its ability to reduce stress levels. By making genuine connections with others (volunteers or otherwise), individuals can take their mind of stressful events happening at home or at work. A study undertaken by UnitedHealth Group found that 78% of adults who took part in volunteering projects said that their stress levels were reduced as a result.
3. Aids Mental Health Conditions Such as Depression
Those struggling with anxiety or depression may not have previously thought about how volunteering may provide a suitable outlet for managing their symptoms. However, research has shown that volunteering leads to lower rates of depression, particularly for those over the age of 60. This is thanks to an increase in social interaction, conversation and the potential to build a support network with similar interests – both of which are proven to help with depression.
4. It Builds Self-Esteem
This is particularly the case for younger volunteers who are in their teens and early adult years who may be struggling with self-confidence and self-worth. The volunteer environment helps to make participants feel valued for their contribution. An incredible 96% of those who’ve taken part in volunteering have stated that the activity has enriched their sense of purpose in life.
5. Keeps You Physically Active
Our increasingly sedentary lives are presenting a risk to our health. Volunteering often requires light or sometimes strenuous activity which helps to keep you fit and healthy without even really thinking about it. Whether you’re helping to unload boxes at a foodbank, or you’re taking dogs for a walk at a local rescue centre, staying on the move is one of the reasons why volunteers have been proven to live longer than those who do not participate in benevolent activities.
Volunteering Delivers a Wide-Ranging Package of Health Benefits
The above list is by no means exhaustive. Links have been made between volunteering and the improvement of Alzheimer’s disease, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, blood pressure, earning prospects, and so much more. So if you haven’t tried it before, perhaps now is the time!
If you would like to learn more helpful facts about health and nutrition, then why not have a look through our health and wellness blogs. They are packed with information about exercise, sleep, relaxation, positive mental health, travel health and you can even check what travel vaccine you require before your trip.
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