Volunteering betters our health: mental or physical, young or old

These days, technology reigns. The way we interact with one another is greatly different than it was just ten years ago. Our sense of community is a little different – trading in block parties for friend “likes.”

You’ve likely heard horror stories about, or personally experienced, increased bullying and mental health issues in teens, or increases in hypertension and heart disease in older adults.

Are these things connected? At Passport for Good, we think so, and our product tries to marry the world’s technological ways with the in-person experience (and benefits) of volunteering.

Happiness is helping othersHelp your heart and mind

Scientifically, thanks to a recent book called The Giving Way to Happiness by Jenny Santi, we know that volunteering can help with both your mental and physical health, regardless of your age.

Two studies showcased by the book prove college undergraduates who volunteer achieve more social connections, have increased compassion, are less lonely and have fewer interpersonal problems – all-around mental health “wins.” Teens also experienced lower levels of inflammation, cholesterol and lower BMIs.

Similar mental and physical health benefits were seen in older adults. The depression or loneliness from less social interaction due to retirement, empty nesting or bereavement can be helped by the social interaction you can get from volunteering. This increased happiness and activity can ward off hypertension and heart disease.

But why does volunteer-work help our health?

Because what we focus on during volunteering has direct correlations to improvements in the quality of our lives. We gain personal rewards from community service, such as improving our mood and self-esteem, escaping our problems to help solve others, learning new skills and enhancing our social connections.

Simply put: If we better our world, we better ourselves.