We all know that volunteering is fun, and that doing good gives us a sense of purpose and satisfaction. But did you know that it is also great for your heart?
In honor of Heart Health Awareness month, here are 5 reasons why volunteering is one of the best things you can do for your ticker!
Increases Activity and Lowers Blood Pressure
Did you know that people who volunteer on a regular basis are typically more physically active than those who don’t? It only takes 200 hours of volunteering a year to significantly lower your blood pressure. Adults over 50 who volunteer are less likely to develop high blood pressure than their non-volunteer counterparts.
Decreases Stress and Improves Mental Health
Individuals who have healthy interaction with other people and a social network typically experience lower levels of stress. This leads to a more positive outlook, reduced heart rate, and better sleep. Volunteering creates a positive environment where people can connect with one another and discover a sense of joy and fulfillment.
Helps You Lose Weight
One side benefit of increasing activity and reducing stress is that it can help fight obesity. A study conducted with a group of tenth-graders in Canada proved this principle. The students began volunteering with an after-school program for children, and after a period of time, those who engaged in volunteering lost weight and had better cholesterol levels than their peers who did not volunteer. So why is this true? One possible explanation is that helping others takes the focus off of our own problems and makes people less likely to engage in coping behaviors like binge-eating and unhealthy snacking.
Improves Your Gut Health
Another benefit of decreased stress levels is that it will make your stomach happier. Stress has been shown to cause heartburn and acid reflux, slow down digestion, lead to constipation and diarrhea, and even contribute to more serious illness. By contrast, reducing stress can lessen inflammation in your gut and help you absorb the nutrients that you need.
Makes You Live Longer
Did you know that having a higher purpose, like that of volunteering, makes you live longer? The benefits to your heart are so significant that it can actually extend your life expectancy. One study observed that older people were less likely to die over a five-year period if they reported “feeling happy, excited and content on a typical day.” Volunteering can combat the loneliness that many people, especially older adults, experience in our society today, and can lead to a longer, more fulfilling life.
So get out today and volunteer! You will have an opportunity to do good, feel great, and your heart will thank you for it!
VOMO is the radically simple engagement platform helping organizations do good with great people. If you lead an organization that would benefit from a simplified way to engage volunteers schedule a demo and one of our representatives can give you a tour of the platform and answer any questions you have.