The Health Benefits of Volunteering

Is volunteering a form of self-care? Researchers Eric Kim and Sara Konrath featured in a recent article published by The Atlantic think so. Konrath even believes that, in addition to their suggestions of healthy eating and exercising, doctors “should tell people about the health benefits of social activities, including volunteering.”

Their evidence? The researchers’ joint study of 7168 Americans older than 50 suggests that those study participants who choose to regularly participate in volunteer work were more likely to receive “flu shots, mammograms, Pap smears, cholesterol tests, and prostate exams. Most importantly, volunteering was associated with 38 percent fewer nights spent in the hospital.” In other words, as Konrath put it, “What this shows is that volunteers make decisions about their health that are different from non-volunteers…One way to think about this is that when we care for ourselves, in a fundamental way, it allows us to care for others.”

The connection between self-care and care directed outwardly is undeniable based on the research of Kim and Konrath. To hear more about the fascinating findings of their studies, check out the article “The Physical Power of Altruism” using the following link:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/12/altruism-for-a-better-body/422280/

Luckily, here at Bowdoin we’re surrounded by opportunities to volunteer. Bowdoin’s emphasis on its historical connection to and tradition of supporting the common good is embodied in institutions such as the McKeen Center, where students can find ways to connect with Brunswick and its surrounding communities and the world beyond. So, sign up for an Alternative Spring Break. Take advantage of Common Good Day. And always keep your eyes open for new opportunities to cultivate or support your passion for volunteering, knowing the intrinsically gratifying experience could come with all sorts of health advantages!

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