Helping Others Helps You to Live Longer

“Want a longer life?  Volunteer to do good and you might benefit at least as much. Visiting the sick, feeding the hungry and chairing that committee no one else wants to touch are morally admirable— but being selfless can also be good for both body and soul. A new review of the health effects of volunteering found that helping others on a regular basis — like serving food in a soup kitchen or reading to the blind— can reduce early mortality rates by 22%, compared to those in people who don’t participate in such activities. The review, which included 40 studies and was published in BMC Public Health, also revealed that volunteers benefit from reduced rates of depression and an increased sense of life satisfaction and well being — doing good, it seems, made them feel good. “Our systematic review shows that volunteering is associated with improvements in health,” lead author Dr. Suzanne Richards of the University of Exeter Medical School in England said in a statement. But don’t expect to reap the benefits of longevity after tossing a few coins in the next charity collection you encounter. It takes regular sacrifice of time and effort to engage the sense of reward that comes from volunteering— in the research, participants volunteered at least an hour of work, once a month and often, pitched in more frequently. Helping others probably benefits health by increasing social contact and reducing loneliness, which another review found to be as dangerous as smoking in contributing to high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and dementia.  In contrast, socializing with friends and family — which volunteer work promotes — lowers dementia risk.” Read More HERE