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The Health Benefits of Volunteering

November 30, 2017 by Normand Richard, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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The health benefits of volunteering

For many of us, the act of giving brings satisfaction and reward. One thing you can give that is always appreciated is your time, and one way to do that is through volunteering.

Where to begin your volunteering:

A great place to start may be to give time to a cause that is meaningful to you. For example, if you’ve always really liked soccer, you could offer your time to officiate games. Or if you are into the outdoors, you could help with maintaining a local hiking trail or community park.

Why is volunteering good:

Life can get busy and it’s easy to forget to do basic, but important things. Things like connecting with others, being active, and taking time to be grateful may not be at the top of your daily to do list.

Often, volunteering involves some social interaction. Given that many of us now use technology – often on our own – to entertain ourselves with TV series, social media, gaming, etc., getting out in the community and having face-to-face interactions helps reduce isolation. Volunteering is also a good way to network while getting a feeling of gratitude. Read more on the benefits here.

On the physical side, your chosen activity will most likely keep you moving. For example, helping with a meals-on-wheels program could entail climbing several flights of stairs and moving food coolers. Or if you are helping out at an event, you could be on your feet all day walking around. On the harder end, if you help with some park or trail maintenance you could be engaging in a lot of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.

When to volunteer:

With the holidays nearing, I like the idea of volunteering time to an organization that someone you love supports instead of buying them a gift. If you simply don’t have the time right now, consider adding some volunteering to your weekly schedule anytime of the year. Think of it as a way to reduce some of that sitting and screen time.

Volunteering is a win win for everyone involved. This holiday season consider giving your time to help others rather than purchasing objects. Buying presents can lead to over-spending, stress and waste while volunteering your time benefits the people you love, your larger community and even the environment. And, on a personal level, volunteering is good for your physical and mental health!


Related blogs

Give: Find Fulfillment in Helping Others
Giving Back Helps You Age Well

Recommended resources

Harvard Health: The many ways volunteering is good for your heart

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