The Unexpected Rewards of Volunteering

Diverse Group of Teens Volunteering

Volunteering is all about helping others. But when you volunteer, one of the people who benefits most is you. Everyone has their own reasons to volunteer, including:

  • Learning a new skill
  • Connecting with your community
  • Gaining a sense of achievement
  • Expanding your career options
  • Discovering a new interest
  • Getting hands-on experience
  • Meeting new people
  • Inspiring others

Volunteering also has health benefits. A review of research by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency, found volunteering is linked to longer life, lower rates of depression, and less risk of heart disease.

In other words, volunteering could actually make you happier and healthier.

  • A study of adults age 60 and older found that the positive effects of volunteering included improved physical and mental health and greater life satisfaction.
  • Other studies show that people who begin volunteering at earlier ages enjoy better health later in life, and may even live longer.
  • People were more likely to get positive physical benefits if they volunteered for at least 2 different organizations, or volunteered for at least 100 hours a year (about 2 hours a week).
  • In the US, states with the highest volunteer rates tend to have lower rates of heart disease and death than states with the lowest volunteer rates.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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