April is Volunteer Month, so we wanted to take this opportunity to discuss the ways volunteering allows us to do good – and feel good – as we get older! Volunteering gives people a boost and makes them feel good about themselves. Volunteering connects us to our communities, helps fill our days with purpose, and introduces us to new people. But did you know volunteering can even have a positive impact on your health? If you’ve been looking for a reason to volunteer, consider these four health benefits volunteering can provide!
1. Volunteering has mental health benefits
There are several mental health benefits to serving as a volunteer. Spending time helping others gives us a new perspective that can make us happier and more confident.
Increase your own happiness by volunteering for others. Volunteering gives a “happiness effect” or “warm glow,” and it releases feel good hormones that give us a natural boost. Volunteering can also increase self-confidence. According to this survey, people who had volunteered in the past year were more satisfied with their lives than those who hadn’t.
Volunteering can also reduce risk of depression and stress. Working together with other like-minded people increases social interaction and helps build a support system based on common commitment and interests. Both factors have been shown to decrease depression. Volunteering can also be a way to gain control in a stressful situation. Studies show a lower level of distress in everyday life for those who volunteer compared to those who don’t.
2. Volunteering has physical health benefits
Helping others can have physical health benefits. People who volunteered during the past year reported better health overall compared to those who had not volunteered. Many said serving in a volunteer role made them feel better and 25% said volunteering helped them manage a chronic illness.
There’s also a connection between improved blood pressure and volunteering for those who volunteer frequently. According to one study, those who volunteered for at least 200 hours in the last 12 months prior to baseline were less likely to develop hypertension. Check with your healthcare provider to make sure your volunteer opportunities involve an appropriate level of physical activity for an appropriate amount of time.
3. Volunteering has cognitive benefits
There are also cognitive benefits associated with volunteering. Staying mentally and physically active can increase your brain function. When you volunteer, you are moving and thinking at the same time! If staying mentally sharp is a priority for you, consider work such as tutoring to help you stay a lifelong learner.
4. Volunteering has social benefits
Volunteering can be a great way to stay connected to other people, especially after retirement. Joining a volunteer group is a great way to meet people with common commitments, interests, and values. If you’re looking to get to know your community, start by finding ways to help your neighbors!
When making positive health and lifestyle changes, every little bit counts! Those who volunteer as little as once a month experience improved mental, emotional, and physical health. To get started today, visit these pages to learn more about the opportunities available in your state:
ApexHealth is a Medicare Advantage plan that has your back. Give us a call at (844) 279-0508 (TTY: 711) to speak with an ApexAssistant. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Apr. 1 through Sept. 30 and seven days a week 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31.