YMCA of Central Ohio

Volunteering: It’s good for your health!

National Volunteer Week is April 23rd-29th!

President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week with an executive order in 1974, as a way to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers. Since then, the the week has become a nationwide effort to urge people to get out and volunteer in their communities. Every April, charities, hospitals, and communities recognize volunteers and foster a culture of service.

Mental/Physical Health Benefit Statistics:

  • Essentially, having a sense of purpose affects your health. (Source)
  • Volunteers feel socially connected, which reduces depression and anxiety (Source)
  • When Canadian tenth-graders in a recent study began volunteering at an after-school program for children, the high schoolers lost weight and had improved cholesterol profiles compared to their non-volunteering peers.
  • In the journal JAMA Pediatrics, the researchers concluded, “Adolescents who volunteer to help others also benefit themselves, suggesting a novel way to improve health.”
  • In another randomized controlled trial at Washington University in St. Louis, older adults who began tutoring children through a program called Experience Corps demonstrated improvements in stamina, memory, and flexibility, as well as levels of depression
  • New findings further a case for adding volunteering to the list of things that physicians recommend to all patients. (Study, January 2016 journal Social Science and Medicine)
  • Volunteering lowers mortality risk by 24 percent 
  • Those who volunteer regularly live longer
  • A two-year study that looked at 7,168 Americans over age 50 (only some of whom did volunteer work in their communities) found that after adjusting for a wide range of confounding variables, volunteers were more likely to get flu shots, mammograms, Pap smears, cholesterol tests, and prostate exams. Most importantly, volunteering was associated with 38 percent fewer nights spent in the hospital. Volunteers make decisions about their health that are different from non-volunteers. One way to think about this is that when we care for ourselves, in a fundamental way, it allows us to care for others.” (Source)


Find the Y's volunteer opportunities here!