Seniors who volunteer get a health boost
Canadian researchers say that older people who help others are also helping themselves.
After analyzing nearly 75 different studies about volunteer activities and health conditions, scientists at Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences concluded that senior citizens who spend time serving can receive a significant boost to their health and well-being. The findings are published in Psychological Bulletin.
Those who volunteer at least 2.5 hours per week experienced reduced depression symptoms and even longer life spans, researchers said. The link between “feeling appreciated or needed as a volunteer” leads to better well-being overall.
Seniors with chronic health conditions actually benefit the most. The moderate amount of volunteering can help reduce high blood pressure and even lower the risk of hip fractures as compared to those who don’t engage in volunteer activities.
“Our goal was to obtain a more comprehensive view of the current state of knowledge on the benefits of volunteering among older adults,” said study leader Dr. Nicole Anderson, in a news release. “We discovered a number of trends in the results that paint a compelling picture of volunteering as an important lifestyle component for maintaining health and well-being in later years.”
The study results are good news for seniors but young people also gain from doing good works.
The findings of a recent study from the University of British Columbia showed that young adolescents who engaged in altruistic activities reaped surprising health benefits.
The body mass index (BMI), cholesterol and inflammation levels were taken of all of the students before and after the study. Researchers also gauged the student’s mood and self-esteem among other mental health categories.
At the end of the trial period, the students who engaged in good works were found to have lower levels in all categories, and improved cardiovascular health, compared to their non-volunteering counterparts.
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