Volunteering shown to be good for your heart. No, literally

Guess who's NOT going to have heart attacks. via Flickr user Vix Walker
Guess who’s NOT going to have heart attacks. via Flickr user Vix Walker

We’re always willing to give a fun volunteer opportunity a shout out here. For starters, because it’s a free thing to do, and, sometimes it even comes with sweet perks. Free food or drinks, meeting new people, the ability to lord your kindly humanity over your lazy friends. And now, via The Atlantic, comes the news that volunteering can actually be good for your health.

A group of scientists from Mount Sinai split two groups of inner-city Vancouver high schoolers into groups that either did volunteer work or didn’t. The work wasn’t physically challenging stuff like ripping out mold-covered tile floors either, it was simpler work like helping younger students with their homework or other light after-school activities. After ten weeks, the group that was volunteering showed a reduction in things like BMI, inflammation and cholesterol levels, which are all related to cardiovascular health. And while part of it could come from having to chase kids down, the scientists behind the study theorized that volunteering kept the kids away from high-risk behavior associated with heart disease.

Now, as a caveat, that won’t necessarily be the case if you’re volunteering somewhere that rewards you with greasy fried food. Still, a weekend day spent volunteering instead of downing bottomless mimosas with your brunch is, of course, better for you. And given that there are opportunities out there right now that don’t reward you with fatty food, it couldn’t hurt to jump on them and maybe extend your life by another year or two. If you’re into that sort of thing.

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