We all know the saying, “It is better to give than to receive.” While it is true that giving really benefits those in need, did you know studies show that giving is truly good for the giver too? As millions come together to celebrate the holidays, let’s take a look at how giving not only adds richness to our lives but surprisingly improves our health. Here’s 5 Amazing Health Benefits of Giving
“Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.” Jim Rohn –
1. Greater Happiness
Biologically, giving can create a “warm glow,” stimulating regions in the brain associated with pleasure, trust and connection with other people. In a 2006 study, researchers from the National Institutes of Health studied the functional MRIs of subjects who gave to various charities. They found that giving stimulates the mesolimbic pathway, which is the reward center in the brain, releasing endorphins and creating what is known as the “helper’s high.” And like other highs, this one is addictive, too.
2. Stronger Heart
There is significant evidence to show that when people perform charitable acts, they tend to have lower blood pressure. In one study, researchers measured people’s blood pressure before and after performing an act of kindness then before and after spending money on themselves. Findings showed that those who performed a good deed had lower blood pressure after; whereas, the group that spent money on themselves, did not show a reduction in blood pressure. While the reasons are not entirely clear, it is believed that altruistic acts decrease stress; increase levels of the hormone oxytocin, which drops blood pressure; and in some instances is a catalyst for physical activity such as fundraising walks.
3. Immune Booster
Kind deeds decrease stress and promote a feeling of wellbeing, both of which boost our immune system. Specifically, scientists’ studies indicate that the levels of T cells—a special immune system cell—increase in our body. What this boils down to is a better defense against germs and, even, cancer because our immune system fights cancerous growth. Additionally, altruistic acts have been shown to decrease inflammation, which is the underlying cause of a number of chronic illnesses and can actually provoke cancerous growths.
4. Pain Reliever
Acts of giving and kindness can help to suppress physical pain by releasing endorphins—our body’s natural pain reliever. In one study, when chronic-pain sufferers volunteered to lead discussion groups for pain sufferers or make weekly calls to check in on patients, their own pain levels decreased. When your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.
5. Longer Life
According to a study from University of California, Berkeley, study, people who were 55 and older who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than those who didn’t volunteer — even accounting for many other factors including age, exercise, general health and negative habits like smoking. In a 2003 University of Michigan study, a researcher found similar numbers in studying elderly people who gave help to friends, relatives and neighbors — or who gave emotional support to their spouses — versus those who didn’t.
As we look through our holiday lists, we should add daily acts of “giving, generosity, and kindness” to our lists as it not only helps others, but as studies show, giving helps our health too! It looks like science has proven that it is indeed better to give than to receive.
Sources: The Cleveland Clinic and The Washington Times