With Halloween over, the countdown is on to Thanksgiving. Many of us celebrate Thanksgiving by contemplating all we have to be grateful for, and we all know how good that feels. Lots of us also choose to give back in some way during the holidays – volunteering, donating money to a favorite cause, or just going out of our way to be a little kinder to those around us. But did you know that in addition to being a generous source of assistance to others, giving back is good for your health, too?
That’s right – loads of research point to the many health benefits of philanthropy. For example, people who volunteer:
Studies show that volunteering increases your life span. Not only that, but the years you add are healthy ones; it increases the quality of your life, not just the quantity.
When researchers study centenarians – people who live to be 100 and older – a few common characteristics pop up: These people tend to eat lots of vegetables, nuts and fish, for instance. They get lots of daily physical exercise and state that family and faith are important to them. These seem sort of obvious, right? Well, another common bond among centenarians is that they participate in philanthropy. For instance, the Seventh-Day Adventists culture prioritizes volunteering. A large cluster of Adventists reside in Loma Linda, California, and they are some of the longest-living people in America.
Have Lower Rates of Depression Later in Life
Philanthropy allows you to step outside yourself and reflect on how fortunate you truly are. It gives you a healthy perspective on life and helps you see that life as you know it is actually pretty good.
Have Healthier Hearts
A recent study in JAMA Pediatrics had 106 high school students volunteer once a week with elementary school-aged children for two months. After two months, the teens who volunteered, versus the control group, who didn’t participate in any philanthropy, showed significantly lower cholesterol levels and body mass index – after just 10 weeks! They also had lower levels of interleukin 6, an inflammatory protein.
Now that you know how healthy it is to give back, there’s no reason not to try it this holiday season. Reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and share your give-back experience, and we might profile you in an upcoming blog post!