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Help Others, Help Yourself

Article date: April 1, 2014

Want to do a lot of good with a little of your time? Whether it’s giving a cancer patient a ride to chemotherapy, putting together a team for Relay For Life®, or sending an email to friends and family about our cancer screening guidelines, there are many different ways you can join the fight against cancer. And there is no better time to start than now, as we observe National Volunteer Week, April 6-12. This year marks the 40th anniversary of National Volunteer Week, which aims to inspire, recognize, and encourage people who engage in their communities.


Volunteering is not only about helping others; it’s also about helping yourself. Study after study shows what anyone who helps their favorite charity already knows: Helping others makes you feel good.

A report by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency, found that volunteers live longer, have lower rates of depression, and have less risk of heart disease.

In other words, volunteering could actually make you happier and healthier. The research suggests that volunteering is particularly healthy for older adults and those who volunteer at least 2 hours a week:

  • A study of adults age 65 and older found that the positive effect of volunteering on physical and mental health is due to the sense of accomplishment they get from it.
  • Volunteering led to lower rates of depression in people 60 and older.
  • People who volunteered after recovering from heart attacks reported less despair and depression – 2 factors that that have been linked to death in heart patients.
  • People over age 70 who volunteered about 2 hours a week felt healthier, functioned better, had lower levels of depression, and lived longer.

Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff

ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases. For reprint requests, please contact permissionrequest@cancer.org.

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