Do Good to Feel Good

Do Good to Feel Good

Studies show that volunteering does more than put a smile on someone'’s face. It may also be an effective way to lower our risk of high blood pressure.

If you ever ask volunteers why they do what they do, you’ll often hear the same things—it’s rewarding, they want to give back to the community, they want to show others that someone cares.

No matter what the specific reason may be, lending a helping hand through volunteer work has most definitely been associated with the warm and fuzzies. Only now do we know that those warm and fuzzy feelings may be our own hearts rewarding us for our hard work.

Causes of hypertension

Hypertension—high blood pressure—can affect anyone, though it’s most often diagnosed in those who are middle-aged. Common causes include stress, salt consumption, and genetics as well as most types of kidney disease and some types of heart disease, among others.

Volunteering and hypertension

A study by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg holds some heartening information for those with high blood pressure. The four-year study, which followed more than 1,100 adults between the ages of 51 and 91, found that those who volunteered were up to 40 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure when compared to those who didn’t volunteer at all.

Participants who recorded at least 200 hours of volunteer experience a year—or about four hours a week—were the ones who showed the decreased risk of hypertension. The type of volunteer work didn’t seem to matter, only the amount of time spent lending a helping hand.

Sign me up!

Interested in volunteering? There are hundreds of nonprofits, seniors’ facilities, animal shelters, and other organizations that could use your help. Go online to find out about volunteer opportunities in an organization that interests you. And, if they don’t have any opportunities, why not try contacting them?

If you’re interested in lending a hand, but want more information, take a look at Volunteer Canada’s website.

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