Why offering a helping hand is good for your health

anima helping hand

Volunteering can boost your physical and mental health. (pic: istockphoto.com/JamaicaPlain)

They say that self-esteem comes from doing esteemable things. And now scientists have proven that doing something ‘esteemable’ – like volunteering for charity – is good for your heart as well as your soul.

In a study, a group of students who volunteered for an hour a week over 10 weeks helping younger children with craft activities and homework were found to have improvements in their heart health. The results of the study showed that those who took part had lower levels of the risk factors for heart disease, such as inflammation and cholesterol.

“The volunteers who reported the greatest increases in empathy, altruistic behaviour and mental health, and a lessening of their negative moods, were the ones who also saw the greatest improvements in their cardiovascular health,” says Dr Hannah Schreier, a postdoctoral fellow at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, who led the study.

So, it looks like getting out into the community and helping others not only boosts your mood, but has some physical and health benefits too.

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