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Get Rewards from Community Involvement

Get Rewards from Community Involvement

In an episode of the comedy Parks and Recreation, the main character, Leslie Knope, fills her time during a two-week suspension from her job as deputy director of the Pawnee City Department of Parks and Recreation by forming a citizens’ action committee. She calls it PCP: Parks Committee of Pawnee, “because, like the drug PCP, we are so fast-acting and powerful we should be illegal.”

Knope is the epitome of an involved (although sometimes not evolved) member of the community—and it’s not just good for a laugh.  

A study published in BMC Psychology followed over 9,000 people and found those who were involved in civic groups at ages 33 and 50 scored higher on cognitive tests than those who weren’t. And for every extra group a person was involved with, his or her cognitive powers increased. The groups included anything from a political party or a trade union to an environmental organization and a church group. 

If that’s not reason enough to get involved in your community, research has also shown that when you make an effort to provide support to others, your gain increased longevity and better mental health, as well as greater life satisfaction and a stronger sense of purpose! Plus, folks 50 and older who volunteer regularly are less likely to have high blood pressure.

So, find a group that advocates for a cause you care about. Not only will others benefit from your service, you’ll be helping yourself to a healthier life and a younger RealAge.

Medically reviewed in November 2018.

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