Health & Wellness Newsletter

Health Brief: Volunteering & Your Health

volunteer and be healthy

How Giving Back Benefits Everyone

A popular, non-selfish New Year’s resolution, volunteerism can take many forms. Whether you choose to spend time helping out at your local library, mentoring a child, or building a house, there are many nonprofit volunteer organizations that could really use your help.

No matter how you choose to donate your time, not only will you be benefiting others, you will also reap the many health benefits that come of volunteering. A recent study among Americans illustrates the patterns of volunteering in the United States and the relationship to health and well-being (view the results below).

Volunteering and Health

Volunteers agreed that volunteering has helped them to lead healthier lives.

  • 73% of volunteers agree that “volunteering lowers my stress levels.”
  • 89% of volunteers agree that “volunteering has improved my sense of well-being.”
  • 68% of volunteers agree that “volunteering has made me feel physically healthier.”
  • Volunteering appears to correspond to a healthier Body Mass Index (BMI). 34% of volunteers were considered to have an “average” BMI, compared to 27% of non-volunteers.
  • A lower proportion of volunteers (31%) were identified as obese when compared to non-volunteers (36%).

Volunteering and Satisfaction with Life

Results showed that volunteering appears to correspond with higher levels of life satisfaction – including a greater sense of meaning and purpose, as well as higher levels of optimism.

  • 92% of volunteers agree that volunteering enriches their sense of purpose in life.
  • Volunteers are significantly more likely (42%) to say they have a “very good” sense of meaning in their lives, compared to non-volunteers (28%).
  • Volunteers are significantly more likely (72%) to characterize themselves as “optimistic” compared to non-volunteers (60%).

Source: UnitedHealth Group

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