Why You Should Volunteer
Adults over 50 who volunteer for as little as two hours per week are less likely to die or develop physical limitations compared to adults in the same age range who don’t volunteer. What’s more, a new study found that these volunteers are more likely to have higher levels of physical activity in later years as well as an improved sense of well-being compared to non-volunteers. Study leader Eric S. Kim, Ph.D., of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said the results show that volunteerism among older adults “enriches our own lives by strengthening our bonds to others helping us feel a sense of purpose and well-being, and protecting us from feelings of loneliness, depression and hopelessness.” The findings were based on face-to-face interviews and survey responses from a nationally representative sample of nearly 13,000 older adults who were tracked for more than four years from 2010 to 2016. (The researchers noted that the conclusions were drawn before the Covid-19 pandemic, which makes the social activity of some volunteer work risky and unadvisable for the foreseeable future.)
Eric S. Kim et al, “Volunteering and Subsequent Health and Well-Being in Older Adults: An Outcome-Wide Longitudinal Approach.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2020.03.004
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