Harvard Heart Letter

Lend a hand, help your heart?

People who do volunteer work may reap benefits beyond the satisfaction of helping others.

lend a hand
Doing volunteer work may give you a greater sense of purpose in life—a positive emotion that's been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
Image: monkeybusinessimages/Thinkstock

If you volunteer on a regular basis, perhaps you've experienced the emotional rewards of donating your time. What you might not realize, however, is that volunteering may offer some added advantages for your heart.

"There's a growing body of research showing that volunteering is associated with better physical and mental health outcomes," says Eric S. Kim, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In a study he co-authored, published in Social Science and Medicine earlier this year, volunteers were more likely to use preventive health care services.

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