For the heart and the spirit, give a little and you will get a lot back.
In recent years, it has become apparent that good health means much more than a set of numbers tracking height, weight, heart rate and cholesterol. It starts with the individual. It means taking an integrated approach to wellbeing that includes not only our physical health, but our emotional health, our sense of purpose, connections to our community and our overall quality of life.
A study by United Health Care of more than 4500 adult volunteers confirmed that volunteering made a difference – to the volunteers themselves. People who volunteer feel better – physically, mentally, and emotionally. They consider themselves in excellent or very good health, and they are more likely to say that their health has improved over the past 12 months.
Another important point in the study was how volunteering isn’t just something that healthy people do. Everyone can reap the benefits. Older individuals and those who suffer from multiple chronic conditions have taken on volunteering – and feel better as a result. They feel better physically as it helps to keep them active, but even more importantly, they reported that volunteering takes their mind off of their own problems and helping other people just makes them feel better.
Recognizing the benefits of volunteering, Healthy Saint Paul will be adding volunteering to the list of activities that qualify for the Well-Being Program’s incentive. Specific organizations will be listed from which employees/retirees can choose to serve. Watch for details on this new activity to come out in August.
Excerpted from Volunteering Does a Body good, US News and World Report, November 2010
United Health Group, Doing Good is Good for You. 2013 Health and Volunteering Study.