Harvard Health Letter

Benefits of volunteering: This may be the time to cash in

New Briefs

We often report that volunteering helps brighten your mood and improve your social life. Here's another reason to volunteer: a study published online Aug. 8, 2016, by BMJ Open found that volunteering seems to confer greater benefits for general well-being in middle and older age than earlier in life. Researchers analyzed the answers to a questionnaire given to adults in 5,000 households in Great Britain over a period of about 20 years. When age was factored in, the link between volunteering and good mental health and emotional well-being became apparent at about age 40 and continued beyond age 80. The study was only observational, so it didn't prove that volunteering directly enhanced well-being. But it's a good reminder that it's never too late to start volunteering. Doing so could benefit others—and maybe your own health.