AgeVenture Life-Expectancy Report

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Volunteer for Healthier, Longer Life
Dr. David J. Demko, gerontologist
AgeVenture News Service 05-08-07

Corporation for National and Community Service"Those who volunteer have lower death rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer." so says the Corporation for National and Community Service (May, 2007).

The Corporation's analysis of research over the past 20 years "has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health."

Sounds good, but just how much voluntary service to your fellow man is necessary in order to personally benefit your mental and physical health? "Two hours per week."

The two-hour figure is based on the Corporation's 2007 report called, "The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research". The report reviewed the findings of 30 longitudinal studies that researched the relationship between health and volunteering.

Research suggests that volunteering is particularly beneficial to the health of older adults and those serving 100 hours annually (averaging 2 hours per week). According to the report:
  • volunteers age 65-plus improved physical and mental health
    due to personal sense of accomplishment,

  • lower rates of depression
    were found among volunteers age 65-plus,

  • adult volunteers experienced reductions in despair and depression
    heart attack survivors,

  • volunteers age 70-plus had greater longevity, improved health, and
    less depression,

  • two hours of voluntary service per week established as the threshold
    level of health benefits. No additional health benefits beyond 2hrs/week,

  • voluntary service is an equal opportunity health benefit
    "Those who gave social support to others had lower rates of mortality than those who did not, even when controlling for socioeconomic status, education, marital status, age, gender, and ethnicity."
The Corporation for National and Community Service provides opportunities for more than 2 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America. For more information, visit www.nationalservice.gov
Photo credit: Corporation for National and Community Service.

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