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Go on, Volunteer…it’s good for you!

Go on, volunteer — it’s good for you and for the people you’re helping! It can increase longevity and give you an emotional boost. Research shows that helping others boosts longevity and mental health. “Volunteering is helpful when the experience is purposeful, meaningful and makes a difference, either directly or in the bigger picture,” says Jane Pernotto Ehrman, MEd, CHES, behavioral health specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Lifestyle Medicine. “We humans are wired to feel good about doing good. Research has shown that volunteers experience a ‘helper’s high’ because dopamine, the neurotransmitter linked to a sense of reward and pleasure, spikes during such activities.” Volunteers feel happier, are healthier and live longer. Not many activities in life can help improve so much at once, and all while helping others. According to Ehrman, neighborhoods with greater volunteerism had less crime, better schools and happier, healthier residents. This was true in rural as well as inner-city areas, showing that when we volunteer, everyone truly benefits.

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