The Benefits of Being Charitable | Men's Health Magazine Australia

The Benefits of Being Charitable

Altruism is a noble quality on which civilised society depends. But did you know about the health kickbacks? Follow our guide to selfish philanthropy.


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High Stakes

For those of us who’d rather not pound the pavement for three hours to score an endorphin rush, there’s the lesser-known “writer’s high” – cheque-writer’s high, that is. A  study published in the journal Science found that subjects who donated $200 to a food bank experienced neural activity in the same area of the brain that lights up during sex or after a hit
of cocaine.

Heady Benefits

The 68 per cent of volunteers polled in a 2010 survey by United Healthcare who agreed that altruism made them “feel physically healthier” were onto something. A review in the journal Psychological Bulletin, which analysed 73 studies on the benefits of volunteering, associated charitable behaviour with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, as well as reduced symptoms of depression.

Good Heart

Handing out oranges at your local fun run could slice your risk of cardiovascular issues. An American Medical Association study found that people who volunteered for 10 weeks experienced a reduction in cholesterol, systemic inflammation and BMI. Participants with the biggest increases in altruism saw the most notable reductions in biological markers of cardiovascular disease

Be Kind, Unwind

Research published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science found those who perform more acts of kindness throughout the day are less emotionally affected by work stress. “Our findings suggest that if we do small things for others, we won’t feel as unwell on stressful days,” says Yale University psychologist Emily Ansell. Looks like you’re on the next coffee run.

Healing Hand

So you’re the one sending all those fundraising requests? Well, if running long distances leaves you hurting, aiding others after the race will help you feel better, reports a study in Science. Researchers found that patients with chronic pain who were trained to be peer counsellors saw their own discomfort ease after helping others tackle their issues.

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