How volunteer travel can make you healthier

by admin on December 6, 2012

As a voluntourist, you can help hundreds — maybe even thousands – of less fortunate people in developing countries through your altruistic efforts.
And you’ll also be helping yourself.
Although the desire to make the world a better place draws most people to voluntourism, research shows there are some significant health benefits linked to both travel and volunteering that shouldn’t be overlooked.
The stress-melting advantages of holidays have been well documented over the past decade, so  you probably won’t be shocked by a Japanese study that shows vacations help control fatigue in workers. Everyone needs a break, after all. But other research has demonstrated even clearer health benefits associated with getting away.
One report found that middle-aged men at high risk for heart disease who took annual vacations had a significantly lower mortality rate. The American Travel Association trumpets research that highlights other benefits, including a study that showed people get three times more deep sleep after their vacation.

And that’s just a quick sampling of recent research.
Of course, what you do while on holidays will also determine whether or not the experience will boost your health. A week-long bender in Vegas, packed with fried food and cheap alcohol, probably won’t improve your wellbeing. But one study found that volunteering might.
In its online casino report the “The Health Benefits of Volunteering,” the Corporation for National and Community Service discovered that volunteers have greater longevity, less incidence of heart disease, higher functional ability and even lower rates of depression
Think about it: what better way to cure the blues than helping someone else?
Much of the benefits stem from the feeling of accomplishment people get from volunteering. And older adults receive the biggest health boost  – it can even help them recover after heart attacks by fighting off despair.
“Volunteering makes the heart grow stronger,” said David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, in a news release.
And if you volunteer in developing countries, where the need is especially great, you’ll experience an even stronger sense of personal fulfillment. How can anyone not benefit from that?

So when you start thinking about where you’d like to getaway for that next vacation, consider escaping to a place where you can improve your health while making the world a little better.
Your heart will thank you. And so will we.

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