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Increase longevity - Start volunteering for the right reasons

Friday, October 14, 2011 by: Dr. Anthony Baratta
Tags: longevity, volunteering, health news

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(NewsTarget) If living a longer and healthier life interests you - you may want to consider lending a helping hand a bit more. People, who regularly volunteer and for the pure satisfaction of helping others, were shown to improve their longevity compared both to their non-volunteering counterparts and, better yet, even to those who volunteered but only for a personal benefit.

Researchers from the University of Michigan concluded this after studying a group of Wisconsin high school graduates from 1957. The researchers caught up with over 3,000 of these individuals, who were now age 65 years or older. They found that a little over half of them had volunteered in the previous 10 years, and when contacted four years later, just 2.3 % of the volunteers had died, compared to 4.3% of non-volunteers.

The frequency of volunteer time mattered as well, showing that less than 2% of the regular volunteers had died opposed to 2.5% of occasional volunteers.

The most interesting findings of the study, though, revealed how motives for volunteering can have dramatic effects on our mortality. The participants, who volunteered and did it for compassionate reasons, were more likely to gain the most health benefits.

However, the ones who volunteered but only did it for personal gain or self growth, such as social interaction, getting out of the house, escaping their own problems, etc., were as likely to die as those who didn't volunteer at all.

Volunteer work, when the motive is genuine, can have amazing physical benefits such as:

- Stress reduction: when helping others, your body releases an important hormone called oxytocin, which assists in buffering out stressful thoughts.
- Even thoughts of giving have effects on certain chemicals of the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin ( both have been linked with depression and other mood disorders).
- Self confidence: when you are passionate about something and helping others in need, your self esteem will build and confidence levels grow.
- Helping others has shown to help with chronic pain and cardiovascular health.

Aside from the health benefits, volunteering can connect you to others and create meaningful and sincere relationships, and it also brings great fulfillment to your life.


About the author

Dr. Baratta has been a practicing chiropractic physician for the past 15 years and speaks regularly on the importance of holistic nutrition, detoxification, fitness and various other topics.

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