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Doing Volunteer Work Improves Health

In the famous Tecumseh study of almost three thousand people by psychology researcher James House (et al. 1988) at the University of Michigan, an interesting tidbit of information emerged. While this study focused on a different topic—the health benefits of social support—one of the variables they uncovered was that volunteer activities were among the most powerful predictors of reduced morbidity and mortality in men. In fact, they discovered that, more than any other single activity, doing regular volunteer work correlated with better health and longevity. The men who did no volunteer work were two and a half times as likely to die during the time period of the study as the men who did volunteer work, even just a couple of hours a week.

Reference: House J, Landis K, and Umberson D. Social relationships and health. Science, 1988;241:540-545.

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Doing Volunteer Work Improves Health

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Berkelhammer is a retired mind-body medicine psychologist. He writes about mindfulness-based practices with a unique emphasis on optimization of wellbeing and health. Dr. Berkelhammer also lectures at San Francisco State University and UC San Francisco, and is currently teaching a class in Marin County through College of Marin. He is the author of the book "In Your Own Hands; New Hope for People with Chronic Medical Conditions".

See his extensive website:

In Your Own Hands: Mindfulness-Based Practices to Optimize Wellbeing - College of Marin Community Education

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APA Reference
Berkelhammer, D. (2016). Doing Volunteer Work Improves Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 May 2016
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