How Volunteering Helps You Stay Physically Healthy

Dibyendu Mukherjee Dallas

March 1, 2023

The power of community engagement and volunteerism

Whether you’re trying to get fit or want to stay physically healthy, volunteering can be a great way to help your body and mind. And it’s not just for the young – older volunteers also benefit from it!

Volunteering helps improve mental health by reducing stress and depression, building social connections and increasing self-esteem. It can also decrease your risk of developing high blood pressure.

Physical Activity

A growing body of research indicates that volunteering can improve your physical health. Studies have shown that volunteering reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure, decreases your chance of getting diabetes, and helps you maintain a healthy body weight.

Volunteering is also linked to improved mental health and brain functioning. It can help you build social connections, combat loneliness and depression and boost self-esteem.

Performing a selfless act like helping at a soup kitchen or cleaning up a park releases hormones such as dopamine in your brain, boosting your mood and happiness. This is known as the “helper’s high” and can greatly increase your happiness and decrease your stress levels.

In addition, staying physically healthy active through volunteering can be as beneficial for your health as taking medication or having a medical procedure, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The latest edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.

Social Connection

Volunteering is a great way to connect with people who share your interests. This can prevent loneliness and social isolation, two major causes of depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders.

Studies show that volunteering can also boost happiness. This is because it helps you to help others, making you feel good about yourself and the world.

Especially older adults who may be lonely or bored can gain new perspectives when helping others. This helps them to build a sense of purpose and appreciation, which can help them avoid stressors and improve their overall health.

In addition to meeting new people, volunteering also helps you strengthen existing relationships. This is important for older adults, who often have difficulty making new friends as they age.

Stress Reduction

Taking time out to help others reduces stress by providing a sense of purpose and appreciation. It also keeps you moving, a major contributor to your physical health.

Volunteering can also help you stay physically healthy by reducing your risk of high blood pressure, a common sign of cardiovascular disease. Adults who volunteer regularly are 40 per cent less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers.

In addition, volunteering helps you to connect with others, which also improves your mental health. It also lets you find new perspectives on your life and the world.

Volunteering can be done in various ways, including helping animals, working with youth or learning about the natural environment. Regardless of how you choose to volunteer, it will allow you to spend time outside in nature, which can positively impact your mental health.

Increased Self-Esteem

The feeling of being able to make a difference in the lives of others can help boost your self-esteem. This helps you feel more motivated and capable, leading to better mental health and quality of life.

Taking time to give back can also prevent social isolation and loneliness. This is especially important for teens and seniors, who often have less access to social connections than adults.

Volunteering can also release dopamine in the brain, which has a calming effect on the human psyche. This can also decrease anxiety and depression.

A study conducted in the United Kingdom found that people who volunteered once a month rated their overall health better than those who did not. Additionally, those who volunteered reported higher happiness levels than those who did not.