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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Volunteer for your health

Exercise, pets and even red wine have been credited with reducing stress and aiding good health. Now add volunteering to that list.

A poll by Spirituality and Health magazine says face-to-face volunteer work relieves stress and equips people to better handle physical and emotional pain. That's what 58 percent of the 1,413 respondents to an Internet poll believe. And 77 percent say they volunteer in some form, with 13 percent consistently doing activities such as tutoring, aiding the sick and working with the homeless.

Allan Luks, head of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, who wrote about the study, says health benefits are experienced only when people work consistently and personally with strangers, not just family and friends.

Volunteering isn't just personal. It's a step toward changing the community — and country. Eighty percent of respondents said the nation's stress level would decrease with increased personal-contact volunteerism. And 86 percent believe it could help reduce racial, religious and ethnic mistrust.


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