Have you ever wanted to build houses for the poor, coach your kid’s sports team, or become a volunteer firefighter? If yes, then you can use these volunteering opportunities as a way to stay in shape! There are hundreds of volunteer opportunities out there, and many of them require you to be on your feet most of the day. From serving homeless residents at soup kitchens to being a camp counselor, these require you to get up out of your chair and move around. In one camp dedicated to teaching health and fitness, the counselors managed to walk on average almost 8 miles over the course of 12 hours.[1]

With how active you are while volunteering, it is no surprise that according to one Harvard School of Public Health study, people who volunteer their time may spend on average 38% fewer nights in the hospital than non-volunteers.[2] This may be a result of a combination of psychological, social, and physiological benefits of volunteering. On top of the exercise you achieve, volunteering may give you a better sense of your purpose in life, reduces stress, and you get to meet new friends.

The more active social life that results from volunteering has some great health benefits on its own. According to one University of Cambridge study, living with an unfulfilled social life can be considered just as dangerous as other risk factors such as smoking or obesity, increasing your chances of early mortality.[3]

Next time you have a weekend off and are unsure of how to spend your time, or if you believe your time would be better spent helping others, then contact local organizations to see how you can volunteer. I’m sure your local animal shelter, fire department, or homeless shelter would love to have you! Then I am certain you will discover that volunteering your time is perhaps one of the best things you can do for your health.

[1] http://www.extension.uidaho.edu/impacts/Pdf_11/38-11swilliams-steps.pdf

[2] https://www.academia.edu/19753044/Volunteering_is_prospectively_associated_with_health_care_use_among_older_adults

[3] http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316

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Posted by Scott Edward

Scott is a Certified Personal Trainer and a member of the International Sports Science Association.

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