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Tags: altruism | endorphins | heart disease | stroke

Health Benefits of Doing Good

By Wednesday, 02 October 2019 04:32 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Although we tend to think of altruistic acts as benefitting only the recipient, scientific evidence shows that helping others also confers benefits on the helper.

Altruistic action often results in a positive feeling brought on by the release of endorphins. When this happens, you enjoy a mood boost that is similar to the feeling you get from vigorous physical exercise.

The knowledge that you are making a difference in someone else’s life also leaves a profound feeling of satisfaction.

Some people may feel guilty about such reactions, but they are natural human responses.

Helping others with life-threatening problems like cancer, or assisting people debilitated by chronic pain can also distract from your own problems and thus temporarily reduce your own stress levels.

Of course, people who feel overwhelmed because they already have too much to do should concentrate on managing their own time, and not take on altruistic tasks that may distract them from their priorities.

But there’s no doubt that when you help others without overtaxing yourself, these acts of altruism can reduce stress levels and fortify both your health and happiness.

Volunteering and helping others also can improve your physical and mental health.

Recent research conducted at Carnegie Mellon University studied people ages 50 and older who worked as volunteers on a regular basis.

The researchers found that the risk of high blood pressure was significantly lower in regular volunteers than in those who did not volunteer.

Because high blood pressure increases risk for heart disease, stroke, and premature death, it’s not surprising that people who volunteer have longer life expectancies.

A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Public Health — which included nearly 900 older subjects — showed that the experience of stressful events was associated with greater mortality rates in those who did not offer help to others, compared to those who did help.

Altruism also strengthens a person’s social ties. That’s important because many studies have shown that strong social networks are associated with improved mental and physical health, as well as better overall sense of well-being.

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Although we tend to think of altruistic acts as benefitting only the recipient, scientific evidence shows that helping others also confers benefits on the helper.
altruism, endorphins, heart disease, stroke
Wednesday, 02 October 2019 04:32 PM
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