'Tis the season for giving — and giving back. A great many people volunteer their time during the holidays, from serving hot meals at soup kitchens to delivering gift baskets for needy families.
If you've ever volunteered, you know how good it feels to help others.
Just ask longtime Rush volunteer Pat Dineen. Friends call Dineen the Energizer bunny because she wears a pink jacket and keeps going and going … and going.
The spry Dineen, who is in her 80s, welcomes each day at Rush with boundless enthusiasm. Whether she's preparing patient information packets or telling corny jokes to patients awaiting hip replacements, she finds deep satisfaction in her work at Rush.
"Every morning I wake up and am grateful for another beautiful day and for the chance to help people through volunteering, " she says.
And research shows that volunteering isn't just good for Dineen's sense of well-being; it's good for her health. The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research, compiled by the Corporation for National and Community Service, summarizes findings of multiple studies looking at the relationship between health and volunteering.
These findings consistently demonstrated a connection between volunteering and good health, including greater longevity, lower rates of depression, a lower incidence of heart disease and higher functional ability (the actual or potential ability to perform normal activities, often gauged by assessing the ability to perform activities of daily living).
Volunteering and older adults: a bigger health bonus
Age could be a factor with regard to the positive effects of volunteering, with one study finding that volunteering among adults 60 and older provided physical and mental health benefits that were not found in midlife adults who volunteered.
The reason? Younger volunteers may not get as big of a health bonus by volunteering because it's often done out of a sense of obligation (e.g., putting in time at their children's school), whereas older adults are looking for more purposeful roles in their communities when volunteering.
And research has shown that having a sense of purpose in life carries health benefits. According to a study led by Patricia Boyle, PhD, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, possessing a greater purpose in life is associated with lower mortality rates among older adults.
The study, published in Psychosomatic Medicine, found that a person with high purpose in life, one who derives meaning from life's experiences and possesses a sense of intentionality and goal directedness, was about half as likely to die during the study's five-year follow-up period than a person who lacked a high purpose.
"Volunteering provides many older people with a deep sense of meaning, " says Boyle. "Working toward a goal and feeling like you are making a contribution to society likely increases one's sense of purpose in life, which we have found contributes to successful aging."
Why being a do-gooder is good for you
Here are some findings cited in The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research:
- People with chronic pain experienced a reduction in pain intensity and less disability when they started to work as peer volunteers for others suffering from chronic pain.
- Those who volunteered reported higher levels of happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, a sense of control over life and physical health, as well as lower levels of depression.
- When it comes to volunteering and health benefits, however, there are limits. To get the health perks of volunteering, researchers have identified a volunteering threshold of one to two hours a week per year; beyond that, there are no additional health benefits.
So this holiday season, why not take your cue from the ageless Pat Dineen, who celebrated her 10th year of volunteering at Rush in 2012: Get out and explore the volunteer opportunities in your community.where to go prom dress shopping in london how to make a shopping cart cover when did internet shopping start what makes consumers buy from internet? a longitudinal study of online shopping how to connect squarespace to instagram shopping what does in store shopping mean when does late night shopping start in sunderland what do house spiders eat uk when was elephant and castle shopping centre built what is the main shopping street in rome how to promote online shopping site how to get my products on google shopping where is westfield shopping centre where to go shopping in nyc where is dubai shopping festival what is the biggest shopping center in europe when is late night shopping cwmbran which site is cheapest for online shopping how to do google shopping ads how long do house cats live why men hate shopping how to curb a shopping addiction which is better shopping online or in stores how to startup an online shopping business who owns west orchards shopping centre what shops are open in wilton shopping centre where to complaint about online shopping what is google smart shopping campaign how many shops in milton keynes shopping centre how to sage a house how to send a shopping cart link how to start online shopping business in india how to get rid of rats in house fast uk how to complain about a shopping website how to add to shopping list on amazon