Taken from article written by Beth Levine @ The Baseline of Health Foundation
Most people who choose to spend hours of their time volunteering have very good hearts, figuratively speaking. Now, according to recent research, that may be literally true as well. A study has found a link between being a committed volunteer and having a lower risk of hypertension, or high blood pressure.
The research, which was conducted at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, showed that those devoted to helping others through volunteerism have a lower instance of hypertension when they devote time to helping others through volunteerism. More 1,100 individuals, between the ages of 51 and 91, met with scientists in 2006 to answer questions about any volunteer work they performed and their blood pressure was measured. Every subject was found to have blood pressure in the normal range at that point.
The subjects were seen for a follow-up four years later in 2010, at which time they were asked again about their volunteering participation and had their blood pressure levels re-checked. Those who reported participating in volunteer work for a minimum of 200 hours each year during the initial meeting in 2006 were determined to be 40 percent less likely to have elevated blood pressure at the second meeting than their peers who had not been volunteering. Interestingly, the type of volunteering the subjects were involved in did not make any difference. The only factor that lessened the risk of high blood pressure was spending 200 hours each year (that is approximately 4 hours per week) in a volunteer capacity of one type or another.
Although the study was not designed to prove that volunteering keeps blood pressure at a healthy level, the findings were certainly significant enough to establish a suggested link between the two. It is not clear exactly why volunteering has this beneficial effect, but it's quite possible that it has to do with improving the quality and quantity of their social interaction opportunities, making them happier and lending a purpose to their lives. Studies have long shown social interaction can have a positive effect on blood pressure. Research at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1983 found that even time spent with a friendly dog can lower blood pressure levels.
A lack of regular social interaction was found to cause depression in senior citizens in a 2009 study at the Defence Institute of Psychological Research in Delhi, India. And loneliness was shown in a 2010 study at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, to increase a person's chance of developing chronic inflammation--and in turn the diseases it can cause--to the point where its influence on mortality rates is as great as that of smoking.
It would appear that volunteering may be the solution to a number of problems. By building better social connections and warding off isolation, it may help avoid both mental and physical problems. In addition, worthy causes and institutions can benefit greatly from the time people can devote to volunteering for them. And finally, a major health boost can be gotten by keeping blood pressure levels in the normal range. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, one in every three American adults has hypertension. High blood pressure is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attack, and even kidney failure.
If volunteering can help maintain blood pressure levels keep people busy and socially active, and help others all at the same time, it would appear to be a no-brainer to get involved. There are plenty of opportunities available, and volunteering is an all-around good habit to start and stick with.
We have several volunteering opportunities to suit your interest, schedule, passion and help lower your blood pressure!
To raise money for Eric Johnson House, New Jersey AIDS Services will be hosting gift-wrapping services at the Rockaway Mall from November 29th to December 24th.
We are in need of volunteers to help us wrap gifts and collect donations.
Have some Holiday fun and help people living with HIV/AIDS in New Jersey!
You can choose to volunteer as an individual or as a group with family, friends or co-workers! The more the merrier! There are several shifts throughout the day. Each shift lasts approximately 4 hours in length.
Volunteers are needed to help cook, serve, and enjoy dinner with the 10 residents of Eric Johnson House. You have the option to bring in the food to prepare or have us purchase it for you. In either case you are welcome to take part in the meal with the residents. Dinner is served Monday through Saturday between 5:45 - 6:45 and on Sunday between 5:00 - 6:00.