Helper's High: Health Benefits of Volunteering

How helping others helps prevent heart disease and depression and boosts longevity (10 Photos)

Robert A. Barnett on Oct 26, 2012 at 4:50PM

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Helper's High: Health Benefits of Volunteering

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A Bigger Heart

“All the joy the world contains has come through wishing the happiness of others.” -- 8th-century sage Shantideva, quoted by Stephen G. Post, author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping.

If you see someone who is drowning and throw him a rope, he gets a benefit, no question about it. But you might, too. Your body might flood with feel-good chemicals that have a deep evolutionary heritage. You might get a little extra buffer from life’s stresses. Your heart might beat a little healthier. Your immune system might perk up. Your mood might lift. Do this kind of neighborly thing on a regular basis and, studies suggest, you may live longer. There’s only one caveat: “You have to genuinely care,” says Stephanie Brown, Ph.D., associate professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University in New York.

Want to get the “giver’s glow”? Read on.

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