Volunteering Does a Body Good

National Volunteer Week serves as a reminder that helping others may result in a host of health benefits

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- April 10 marks the start of National Volunteer Week – an annual commemoration honoring those who dedicate themselves to taking action and bettering their communities. In support of this weeklong observance – which is sponsored by the Points of Light Institute’s HandsOn Network – Health Net, Inc. (NYSE:HNT) is reminding Americans that volunteerism is not only a noble endeavor, but one that also can bring with it a host of health benefits.

“While volunteering is – in and of itself – a virtuous activity,” says Jonathan Scheff, M.D., chief medical officer for Health Net, Inc., “numerous studies have found that volunteering contributes to improved physical and mental health.”

It's good to do good
In a report entitled, “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research,” a federal agency – the Corporation for National and Community Service – reviewed findings from more than 30 studies focusing on the relationship between health and volunteering. According to the report, there is a strong relationship between volunteering and health. Specifically, the report concludes that volunteers have greater longevity, higher functional ability, lower rates of depression, and less incidence of heart disease. (The report can be read in full at http://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr.pdf.)

The report additionally suggests that volunteering is particularly beneficial to the health of older adults and those who volunteer 100 hours annually. Findings related to these overarching conclusions include:

  • For adults age 65 and older, the positive effect of volunteering on physical and mental health is due to the personal sense of accomplishment an individual gains from his or her volunteer activities;
  • Volunteering helps lower rates of depression in individuals 65 and older;
  • Individuals who volunteered after suffering a heart attack reported decreased rates of despair and depression – two factors that have been linked to mortality in post-coronary artery disease patients; and
  • Those over age 70 who volunteered approximately 100 hours annually had less of a decline in self-reported health and functioning levels, experienced lower levels of depression and had greater longevity.

“Based on these findings,” observes Scheff, “it appears that just two hours of volunteering a week can bring meaningful benefits to both your body and mind.”

Individuals should look for a volunteer activity that strikes a chord with them personally. Also in searching for the "right" volunteer activity, ask these questions:

  • How much time do I have to commit?
  • What talents or skills do I offer?
  • What do I want to get out of my involvement?
  • Will I enjoy this type of service?

To help determine what volunteer activities are available in your specific community, visit these websites:

About Health Net

Health Net, Inc. is a publicly traded managed care organization that delivers managed health care services through health plans and government-sponsored managed care plans. Its mission is to help people be healthy, secure and comfortable. The company provides health benefits to approximately 6.0 million individuals across the country through group, individual, Medicare (including the Medicare prescription drug benefit commonly referred to as “Part D”), Medicaid, Department of Defense, including TRICARE, and Veterans Affairs programs. Health Net’s behavioral health services subsidiary, Managed Health Network, Inc., provides behavioral health, substance abuse and employee assistance programs to approximately 5.4 million individuals, including Health Net’s own health plan members. The company’s subsidiaries also offer managed health care products related to prescription drugs, and offer managed health care product coordination for multi-region employers and administrative services for medical groups and self-funded benefits programs.

For more information on Health Net, Inc., please visit the company’s website at www.healthnet.com.

This release contains links to other sites that are not owned or controlled by Health Net. Please be aware that Health Net is not responsible for any contents linked or referred to from this release. Links to other websites are provided for the user's convenience. Health Net does not express an opinion on the content or the properties of such linked websites and disclaims any liability in connection therewith.


Health Net, Inc.
Amy Sheyer
[email protected]

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  California

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Seniors  Health  Mental Health  Philanthropy  Other Philanthropy  Consumer  General Health  Managed Care