February is the month of love and we are all focused on the heart. No doubt a heart in love is a healthy heart, but are there other factors that can contribute to the health of your heart? Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women. So, it’s important to pay attention to the beat of your heart and incorporate a heart-healthy lifestyle. It’s true exercise and diet contribute greatly to your heart health, but some may be surprised that volunteering is also on the list for being heart healthy.
A study, done by Canadians, found that volunteering lowers cholesterol, BMI, and inflammation in the heart. Everyday Health reported on this study, with 106 high school student participants. Cholesterol, BMI, and inflammation dropped for the high school students that volunteered versus the students that did not volunteer. It turns out, the feel-good benefits of volunteering has a very positive influence on the heart. A heart thrives when it is doing good for others!
As you are well aware, exercise is also good for the heart. Extreme Community Makeover offers plenty of volunteer opportunities that can get your heart pumping. Cleaning up the communities takes a lot of physical exertion and we offer a variety of volunteers experiences such as, graffiti removal, landscaping, painting, yard work, etc. and they all get the body moving.
Volunteering also helps alleviate depression, which is very good for the heart. Volunteering has been shown to help with depression in four distinct ways. First, it helps with social connection. Humans benefit greatly from socializing. Also, volunteering helps to change negative thought patterns. Thoughts create feelings. Volunteering helps a person to change their perspective and contributes to positive action which, in turn, can alleviate negative thought patterns and feelings. Self-esteem is another positive effect of volunteering. The UK did a study where volunteers reported that their self-esteem has elevated after volunteering. Lastly, volunteering decreases stress, which in effect, stabilizes positive emotions and increases longevity.
Each community has a heartbeat of its own. Some communities are healthier than others. ECM helps to bring confidence and health to under served Denver neighborhoods. These neighborhoods not only get a physical makeover, but they get an emotional makeover as well. Resident’s hearts are warmed when they get to experience the gift of service. Volunteers help them with all sorts of projects like fixing a fence, planting a garden, removing trash, etc. It can transform a human heart just knowing that people care. With each individual heart transformation, each neighborhood and community is also transformed.
Do you want a heart transformation? If so, all it takes is for you to give your heart away. In the service of others is where true heart health is experienced. Make your heart health a priority this year and sign up to volunteer.