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Volunteering Boosts Happiness

Posted Sep 13 2013 10:09pm
Posted on Sept. 13, 2013, 6 a.m. in Mental Health Lifestyle
Volunteering Boosts Happiness

Adding to a growing body of evidence suggesting that volunteering may benefit mental health and longevity, Suzanne H Richards, from the University of Exeter Medical School (United Kingdom), and colleagues analyzed data from 40 published papers and found that volunteers were at a 20% lower risk of death, as compared to non-volunteers. Further, volunteers had lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being. The study authors write that: “Observational evidence suggested that volunteering may benefit mental health and survival.”

Caroline E Jenkinson, Andy P Dickens, Kerry Jones, Jo Thompson-Coon, Rod S Taylor, Suzanne H Richards, et al.  “Is volunteering a public health intervention? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the health and survival of volunteers.”  BMC Public Health 2013, 13:773; 23 August 2013.

  
Volunteering may improve your mental health and help you live longer.
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Anti-Aging Forum MLDP Join A4M
Tip #192 - Stay Connected
Researchers from the University of Chicago (Illinois, USA) report that social isolation may be detrimental to both mental and physical health. The team analyzed data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, a nationwide US study involving 3,000 men and women, ages 57 to 85 years. They arrived at three key findings regarding the relationships between health and different types of isolation:

• The researchers found that the most socially connected older adults are three times as likely to report very good or excellent health compared to those who are least connected, regardless of whether they feel isolated.

• The team found that older adults who feel least isolated are five times as likely to report very good or excellent health as those who feel most isolated, regardless of their actual level of social connectedness.

• They determined that social disconnectedness is not related to mental health unless it brings feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Separately, Rush University Medical Center (Illinois, USA) researchers studied 906 older men and women, testing their motor functions (including grip, pinch strength, balance, and walking) and surveying their social activity, for a period of 5 years. Those study participants with less social activity were found to have a more rapid rate of motor function decline. Specifically, the team found that every one-point decrease in social activity corresponded to an increase in functional aging of 5 years, translating to a 40% higher risk of death and 65% higher risk of disability.

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