Wow, you certainly can tell it is January; and we are not referring to the current deep freeze we are experiencing. Seems like everywhere you look there are people offering to help create a new, healthier, happier, stronger, and leaner YOU! Well, before you jump on just any old bandwagon, we’d like to offer up Volunteer Calgary’s prescription for the New Year — a program of health and wellness that is recognized by all of the major players and experts in the field. One that doesn’t require a doctor’s note, postdated cheques or fancy equipment! If your goal this year is to build a healthier, happier YOU, please consider volunteering.
The health benefits of volunteering are numerous and well documented:
- According to a 2009 Mayo Clinic report, people who volunteer have lower rates of heart disease and live longer than those who don’t.
- Volunteering can boost mental health; it’s a great way to stay connected socially; and those social connections help buffer stress and get a person through hard times.
- Women tend to be more adept at maintaining social ties, and volunteer activities can further strengthen a woman’s social network.
- Volunteering can provide a sense of purpose and vitality, key elements in helping stave off the depression that sometimes accompanies aging and isolation.
- Volunteering can also improve your physical health there are many volunteering opportunities in the community that encourage volunteers to be physical everything from cleaning a local park to painting a fence or even helping lead a yoga class.
- Volunteering has also been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain.
- The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that people who remain actively engaged in life tend to have better mental health and are more capable of coping with life’s challenges.
- In his book, “Good Things Happen to Good People”, Stephen Post documents that “Volunteers tend to be happier and therefore less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.”
- For those who are unemployed or retired, volunteering can give you a sense of purpose.
- When you focus on helping others, you are less likely to focus on your own troubles.
- Studies show that staying socially connected is related to good physical and emotional health.
To realize the health benefits of volunteering, your commitment should be 40 to 100 hours a year, says the Mayo Clinic report. (That equates to a couple of hours a week.)
If health and wellness are on your list of things to improve in 2012, we invite you to check out the Volunteer Calgary website to sign up and create a personal profile and let us send you emails every time one of our non-profit organizations posts an opportunity that fits your description of the perfect match.
Volunteerism is a means by which people can take control of lives and make a difference to themselves and to those around them. ~UN State of the World’s Volunteerism Report 2011