Older adults who volunteer for as little as two hours per week can substantially lower their risk of early death, become more physically active, and improve their sense of well-being compared with those who don’t volunteer, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“Our results show that volunteerism among older adults doesn’t just strengthen communities, but enriches our own lives by strengthening our bonds to others and helping us feel a sense of purpose and wellbeing,” said study co-author Eric Kim, research scientist in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, in a June 11, 2020 article in the Daily Mail.
Study findings were based on interviews and surveys from nearly 13,000 participants in the Health and Retirement Study of older U.S. adults.
Said Kim, “Now might be a particular moment in history when society needs your service the most. If you are able to do so, while abiding by health guidelines, you not only can help to heal and repair the world, but you can help yourself as well.”
Other Harvard Chan School co-authors included Tyler VanderWeele, John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and director of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, and Ying Chen, a research scientist in the Human Flourishing Program.
Kim, VanderWeele, and Chen are all affiliate scientists at Harvard Chan School’s Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness.
Read a press release about the study: Doing good does you good