The Corporation for National and Community Service writes that perhaps the first and biggest benefit people can get from volunteering is the satisfaction which comes from incorporating service into their lives and making a difference in their community and country. Good reasons to serve are the intangible benefits alone, which include pride, satisfaction, and accomplishment. In a media release on Feb. 25, 2013, The University of British Columbia reported, Doing good is good for you: Volunteer adolescents enjoy healthier hearts.
According to University of British Columbia researchers, giving back through volunteering is good for your heart, even at a young age. In this study, which has been published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, researchers from UBC’s Faculty of Education and Department of Psychology wanted to discover how volunteering might impact physical health among adolescents. Hannah Schreier, who conducted this research during her doctoral studies at UBC, has said, “It was encouraging to see how a social intervention to support members of the community also improved the health of adolescents.”
In this study the researchers measured the students’ body mass index (BMI), inflammation and cholesterol levels prior to and after the study. The researchers also assessed the students’ self-esteem, mental health, mood, and empathy. The volunteer group of students were assigned to spend one hour per week working with elementary school children in after-school programs in their neighborhood. After 10 weeks the volunteer students had lower levels of inflammation and cholesterol and lower BMIs than the students who were wait-listed. Schreier has gone on to say, “The volunteers who reported the greatest increases in empathy, altruistic behaviour and mental health were the ones who also saw the greatest improvements in their cardiovascular health.” And so simply having compassion for those less fortunate than you and helping them out may have great health benefits.