Volunteers are healthier. (They also tend to be richer.)

Science Daily finds that those who give back also seem to be getting back – because people who volunteer for causes are in better health than the rest of us:

Researchers of Ghent University analysed data on volunteering, employment and health of more than 40,000 European citizens. Their results, just published in PLOS ONE, show that volunteering is associated with better employment and health outcomes.

Even after controlling for other determinants of health (gender, age, education level, migrant status, religiosity and country of origin), volunteers are substantially in better health than non-volunteers.

Volunteers have, after controlling for the aforementioned personal characteristics, a higher income and this higher income is associated with better health. Professor Stijn Baert: “This finding corroborates with previous research showing that volunteering activities on one’s cv yield higher employment opportunities, especially for non-natives.”

Professor Sara Willems: “Firstly, volunteering may improve access to psychological resources (such as self-esteem and self-efficacy) and social resources (such as social integration and access to support and information), both of which are found to have an overall positive effect on health. Secondly, volunteering increases physical and cognitive activity, which protects against functional decline and dementia in old age. Finally, neuroscience research has related volunteering to the release of the caregiving-related hormones oxytocin and progesterone, which have the capacity to regulate stress and inflammation.”

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