Volunteering Is Good For Your Health

We all know that eating well, getting plenty of rest, and participating in regular physical activities are excellent ways to maintain and improve our health. But what about other activities? What about… volunteering?

A 2015 study from Carnegie Mellon University, published in the journal Psychology and Aging, found that volunteering really can be good for your health. In the study, older adults (50+) who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers, which is important as high blood pressure can contribute to heart disease, stroke, and premature death.

Other findings indicated that volunteering reduced stress and decreased feelings of loneliness and depression. Studies have also found positive effects on memory retention and overall cognitive health.

This spring, the Virginia Cooperative Extension will offer a training for Master Food Volunteers – volunteer educators who provide programming in the community on the topics of health, nutrition, cooking skills, and overall wellness. The training will be held at the Brambleton Center beginning Tuesday, April 18th from 9am to 1pm.  Subsequent sessions will continue at the same time each week for five weeks, for a total of 30 hours of training.

There is a $90 fee to participate in the training, which provides volunteers with official tote bag and apron, training manual, and covers the cost of lunch for all sessions. Scholarships are available, based on need. Interested applicants should contact Family & Consumer Science Agent, Kim Butterfield, at 540-772-7524 to obtain an application. The deadline for applications is Monday, April 3rd.

As Charles Dickens once said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of others.” Consider what you can do today to help others – it will certainly help our community and you’ll feel better for it!

Kimberly Butterfield, MPH

VCE Family & Consumer Science Agent