Volunteering a way to increase health and well-being

A fact sheet from the Public Health Agency of Canada covers the health benefits that can be gained by volunteering.

Volunteer work improves the well‑being of individual volunteers primarily, but not exclusively, by enhancing social support networks. Support from family and friends acts as a buffer against stress and illness. People with increased social contacts and stronger support networks have lower premature death rates, less heart disease, and fewer health risk factors. Some experts have concluded that the health benefits of social relationships may be as important as health risks such as smoking, physical inactivity, and high blood pressure.

Social network size is consistently related to health and well‑being. Social networks provide both emotional benefits and actual assistance in time of need. An individual’s perception or awareness of the availability of support, regardless of the presence of a stressful circumstance, is health‑enhancing. Volunteering helps individuals form interpersonal ties and develop their social networks. Social support is a key reason for the link between volunteering, life satisfaction and health outcomes. While it is difficult to know whether healthy people are more likely to volunteer or whether volunteering provides health benefits, poor health was indicated as a barrier to volunteering by only 22 per cent of Canadian non‑volunteers surveyed in the National Survey on Giving, Volunteering and Participating (NGSVP). Social participation may not only enhance the support available to individuals, but may also promote health by positively affecting thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Beyond the benefits of social ties gained from volunteer behaviour, research by Young and Glasgow, among others, suggests a separate and distinct benefit of formal affiliation with community‑oriented organizations.

You can access the fact sheet at www.canada.ca where you will find even more information on the benefits of being a volunteer and being involved with a community-oriented organization. If you’re ready to take the step of becoming a volunteer, or if you’ve always been a volunteer and you have a couple extra hours to give, please call Community Care. We have over 400 caring volunteers involved in helping seniors live at home. We must always recruit more, however, as current volunteers are aging, travelling, or changing their focus to other activities.

A few hours to spare?

Volunteer today! Community Care has a volunteer position just right for you. Live happier and healthier by contributing your time and special talents to the community you live in. Call 613-476-7493 or email info@communitycareforseniors.org . Build your resume. Experience new adventures. Connect with others. The possibilities are endless.

-Debbie MacDonald Moynes