Help Others, Help Yourself

woman comforting a female cancer patient

Volunteering is all about helping others. But as many studies show, when you volunteer, one of the people who benefits most is you.

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

In other words, volunteering could actually make you happier and healthier. The research suggests that volunteering is particularly helpful 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 65 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.

Benefits of volunteering

Volunteering can make positive change to your community while helping you out personally. The World Volunteer Web, part of the United Nations Volunteers program, lists the following reasons to volunteer:

  • Learn a new skill.
  • Connect with your community.
  • Gain a sense of achievement.
  • Expand your career options.
  • Discover a new interest.
  • Get hands-on experience.
  • Meet new people.
  • Inspire others.

Join the fight against cancer

Learn about the many opportunities to become involved with the American Cancer Society.

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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