Are you finding that, lately, your volunteer time seems particularly rewarding? There might be a scientific reason behind that. A study released by the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute at the University of Southampton in the UK is touting the benefits of volunteering after age 40.
The study, conducted over a 17-year period, measured the emotional well-being of the respondents. What researchers found is that, starting at age 40, the benefits of volunteering were highly evident.
Around 21% of respondents said they had carried out some kind of formal volunteering activity with women tending to volunteer more than men.
Across the entire sample, the average GHQ score was the best (lowest) among those who were frequent volunteers and worst (highest) among those who never volunteered.
When age was factored in by the research team, the positive association between volunteering and good mental health and emotional wellbeing became apparent at around the age of 40 and continued up into old age (80+).
When looking at they “whys” behind these benefits, researchers cited the ability to develop and maintain social networks, as well as maintaining a sense of purpose, which is important, especially as we age out of the workforce.
The great thing is that, generally, there is no shortage of volunteer opportunities in the communities in which we live. So, give a little of your time. It turns out that this can truly be a win-win for all involved.