How much volunteer work is good for my health?

Matthew F. McCarty, MD

Volunteering has both emotional and physical  benefits on our health. As a interventional pain physician I have a goal of getting people to that point where they feel like reaching beyond their needs and assisting others. In a study of recently retired patients with arthritis Dr. Barlow reported that volunteering led to a new life purpose, pain reduction and a greater desire “to get on with life".

What’s more in a recent study published in Social Science and Medicine, Dr. Morris Okun and colleagues found that those with the greatest physical limitations benefitted the most from volunteering!

Volunteering can:

  • Help you connect with the community
  • Allow you to learn new things
  • Give new meaning to your life
  • Boost your self esteem
  • reduce feelings of isolationism
  • change your focus from your pain to others needs
  • restore balance of giving verses taking

Volunteer work is good for you regardless the amount you complete.  The more the merrier I always say.  Being active within your community and volunteering to complete good deeds will result in great rewards.  Be sure to only volunteer when time allows.  Do not get yourself overly involved to the point where you cannot say no.  If you get to this point then volunteering may cause undue stress and that would take away from the benefit of volunteering.

Dawn Marcus
Medical research shows that volunteering is great for your health. Both young and older people develop better health and an improved sense of life satisfaction when they volunteer. As volunteer commitments increase, health benefits improve, up to a peak improvement when people are donating about 2 and 1/2 hours each week. People who volunteer more than that often find that volunteering becomes stressful and begins to interfere with their daily routine. Among seniors who volunteer, health benefits are greatest when they volunteer for more than one organization. Younger adults should concentrate their volunteer activities to a single organization. When younger adults volunteer with more than one group, their health benefits begin to diminish.
Fit As Fido: Follow Your Dog to Better Health

More About this Book

Fit As Fido: Follow Your Dog to Better Health

Let your dog teach you to live a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life! Companionship with your pet can be used as a means and a motivator to increase your own physical and mental fitness....

Continue Learning about Health and Society

Health and Society

Health and Society

The U.S. population has many disparities in health and well-being when you compare social, economic and environmental conditions. Researchers and scholars are studying ways to improve the nations health as a whole by examining var...

ious factors that influence health and inform public policy. Some academic programs have been designed to establish leaders in the health-care community who recognize these differences and look beyond the traditional spheres for ideas.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.