Can volunteering boost your health?
Researchers at the University of British Columbia set out to discover how the act of volunteering may contribute to overall health among teens. The findings showed that young adolescents who engaged in altruistic activities reaped surprising health benefits.
The study looked at 106 sophomores from a city high school, splitting them into two groups. One group of students performed volunteer services regularly for 10 weeks. The other group was told they were on a waiting list and wouldn’t be able to volunteer immediately. The volunteers worked with younger kids in after school programs.
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.
“It was encouraging to see how a social intervention to support members of the community also improved the health of adolescents,” said lead researcher Hannah Schreier, in a news release.
“The volunteers who reported the greatest increases in empathy, altruistic behavior and mental health were the ones who also saw the greatest improvements in their cardiovascular health,” added Schreier, a postdoctoral fellow at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York.
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