A new study by Harvard University moves towards the idea that being selfless can help us live longer.
According to new research published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, altruistic acts such as volunteering could help us live longer. A study of 13,000 adults in the US found that people over the age of 50, who volunteer for two hours a week have a substantially reduced risk of mortality, less chance of developing physical impairments and an improved sense of wellbeing compared to those who don’t.
Study co-author, Dr Eric Kim of Harvard’s School of Public Health said,”Our results show that volunteerism among older adults doesn’t just strengthen communities, but enriches our own lives by strengthening our bonds to others, helping us feel a sense of purpose and wellbeing, and protecting us from feelings of loneliness, depression and hopelessness.”
“When the Covid-19 crisis finally subsides, we have a chance to create policies and civic structures that enable more giving in society,” said Dr Kim. “Some cities were already pioneering this idea before the pandemic and quarantine, and I hope we have the willingness and resolve to do so in a post-Covid-19 society as well.”
The Harvard study will increase the motivation to develop public health interventions based on volunteering, which is what the UK-based charity Volunteering Matters campaigns for.