Why it is important
Most volunteers have greater life satisfaction and better physical health than do non-volunteers, and their life satisfaction and physical health improves at a greater rate as a result of volunteering. Those who give social support to others have lower rates of mortality. High volunteerism rates and high rates of group membership are associated with higher overall opportunity and, specifically, higher economic opportunity. Community group membership can increase exposure to health messages, providing access to health promotion information and, which can lead to improved health for individuals. For older adults volunteering often provides a sense of purpose. Volunteering helps you make new friends and contacts, it increases your social and relationship skills, it improves mood and self-esteem, it lowers stress levels and helps you manage a chronic illness by taking your mind off of your own problems.
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Category: Social healthResearch
-  Viswanath K, Randolph Steele W, Finnegan JR Jr. Social capital and health: civic engagement, community size, and recall of health messages. Am J Public Health. 2006 Aug;96(8):1456-61. Epub 2006 Jun 29. View
-  Brown, W.M., Consedine, N.S., and Magai, C. (2005) “Altruism Relates to Health in an Ethnically Diverse Sample of Older Adults.” Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 60B(3): P143-52. View
-  Greenfield, E.A. and Marks, N.F. (2004) “Formal Volunteering as a Protective Factor for Older Adults’ Psychological Well-Being.” The Journals of Gerontology, Series B, 59(5): S258-S264. View
-  Van Willigen, M. (2000) “Differential Benefits of Volunteering Across the Life Course.” The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 55B(5): S308-S318. View
-  Connecting Youth and Strengthening Communities, The Data Behind Civic Engagement and Economic Opportunity - Opportunity Nation. September 2014. View
-  DOING GOOD IS GOOD FOR YOU 2013 Health and Volunteering Study - UnitedHealth Group. View