Volunteering for something is not only good for your soul but also to your heart, according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics.
Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York attempted to find out how volunteering affects children and recruited around 106 Grade 10 students from a Vancouver high school. The students were divided into two groups, one of which was involved in volunteered activities regularly over a 10-week period while the second group was wait- listed for volunteer activities.
The researchers measured the participants' body mass index (BMI), inflammation and cholesterol levels as well as their self-esteem, mental health, mood, and empathy. At the end of 10 weeks the researchers found that those who took part in volunteer activities had less inflammation and lower levels of cholesterol compared to those who were on the wait-list.
"The volunteers who reported the greatest increases in empathy, altruistic behavior and mental health were the ones who also saw the greatest improvements in their cardiovascular health. It was encouraging to see how a social intervention to support members of the community also improved the health of adolescents", lead researcher Hannah Schreier said.