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September 2013 – CHOOSE to engage in UNSELFISH SERVICE and VOLUNTEER
FACT: Residents of long-term care facilities who volunteered regularly had an overall higher well-being (life satisfaction, depression, and self-rated health) in comparison to residents who did not volunteer.  Forty-nine residents at five different long-term care facilities were randomly assigned to either volunteer in an English-as-a-second-language program for three months or receive usual care at their nursing home. Positive effects of the volunteer program on well-being was seen both at the end of the program and three months later.1
HOPE: Looking for volunteers for a service project or outreach activity?  Don’t forget family or church members currently living in long-term care facilities. It’s a win-win for everyone!  

FACT: Teens can protect their heart by doing something nice for others. Researchers found that tenth-grade students who volunteered for ten weeks to help younger students with homework and clubs showed significantly lower levels of inflammatory markers and a reduced body mass index (BMI) compared with controls. Volunteering also improved mood and self-esteem.2 
HOPE: Obesity has tripled in adolescents in the last 30 years, and with it comes a higher risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and poor self-esteem.3 One way we can help is by developing opportunities for teens to volunteer in their schools, churches and communities

FACT: New research from Carnegie Mellon University shows that older adults who volunteer for at least 200 hours per year decrease their risk of hypertension by 40 percent. The specific type of volunteer activity was not a factor—only the amount of time spent volunteering led to increased protection from hypertension.4
HOPE: High blood pressure is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.  Volunteering is a simple activity that benefits others while reducing your risk of disease.

FACT: According to the 2013 Health and Volunteering Study conducted by Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group, doing good for others is good for you. Researchers found that out of 3,351 adults surveyed, 76% of volunteers reported feeling physically healthier, 78% reported lower stress levels, 80% felt more in control of their personal health, and 94% said volunteering improved their mood. Better yet, the benefits of volunteering were experienced by members of any age group, regardless of chronic health conditions.5
HOPE: This research shouldn’t surprise us.  Scripture reminds us “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV).

  1. Yuen, H. K., Huang, P., Burik, J. K. & Smith, T. G. (2008). Impact of participating in volunteer activities for residents living in long-term-care facilities. American Journal of Occupational Therapy 62(1), 71-76.
  2. Schreier, H. M., Schonert-Reichi, K. A. & Chen, E. (2013). Effect of volunteering on risk factors for cardiovascular disease in adolescents: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA Pediatrics 16(4), 327-332.  doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.1100.
  3. Ogden, C. L., Carroll, M. D., Kit, B. K. & Flegal, K. M. (2011). Prevalence of obesity and trends in body mass index among US children and adolescents, 1999-2010. Journal of the American Medical Association 307(5), 483-490.
  4. Sneed, R. S. & Cohen, S. (2013). A prospective study of volunteerism and hypertension risk in older adults. Psychology and Aging, 28(2), 578-586. doi: 10.1037/a0032718
  5. United Health Group. (2013). Doing good is good for you: 2013 health and volunteering study.  Retrieved from http://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/~/media/UHG/PDF/2013/UNH-Health-Volunteering-Study.ashx

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