Ian King Los Angeles is a Rotarian who has given his time and wealth to help the less fortunate. As such, he has seen first-hand the many physical and emotional health benefits of volunteering. King offers insight into what volunteers stand to gain when they set aside their own schedule to give their time, effort, and/or hard-earned cash to those who need it.
Ian King points out that the mental health benefits of volunteering aren’t hard to spot. It lowers stress and anxiety levels while combating depression. It also causes the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that causes feelings of happiness, pleasure, and motivation. It enables volunteers to connect with others and build meaningful friendships and relationships with like-minded individuals. Volunteering also boosts cognitive health in senior citizens, lowering one’s risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. One study has even found that volunteering can lower mortality rates in volunteers.
What’s more, because mental and physical health is closely connected, these mental health benefits also lead to improved physical health. Ian King Los Angeles explains that lowering stress and anxiety levels helps to prevent insomnia, and getting a good night’s sleep each night boosts the body’s immune system to prevent a host of sicknesses and ailments. Lower stress levels also prevent the body from releasing the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked with lowered metabolism levels, weight gain, and difficulty losing weight. The ability to maintain a healthy weight is imperative to health, as obesity has been linked with a host of health problems, including diabetes, heart diseases, gallbladder disease, and certain types of cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight also lowers one’s risk of having a stroke.
Ian King Los Angeles also points out that many volunteer opportunities enable volunteers to get good exercise while helping others. Building a house with Habitat for Humanity is one good example. Those who live in rural areas may want to consider becoming volunteer firefighters. Volunteer opportunities can be found with a local YMCA, pet shelter, and city or state parks. Planting trees, coaching kids, leading hikes, and walking dogs burn calories, helping a person maintain a healthy weight. Even more importantly, exercise helps lower stress levels, prevent insomnia, boost heart health, prevent diabetes, arthritis, and certain types of cancer, and boosts one’s energy levels.
At the same time, Ian King Los Angeles emphasizes that no volunteer opportunity is inherently better than another. King has worked with the homeless and at-risk youth for toy and clothes drives and other causes, and he explains that would-be volunteers should consider multiple factors when deciding which organization or cause to work with. One’s schedule should be taken into account, as committing to a certain job and then being unable to follow through can be worse than not committing to the job in the first place. He notes that health can limit volunteer opportunities for those who are disabled or getting on in years; however, he encourages such individuals to take advantage of virtual volunteer opportunities such as tutoring, mentoring, and administrative work for a needy cause. He also encourages those interested in volunteering to consider their strengths and abilities to make the most of their talents in serving the needy. For instance, people who love being with animals may work well with a pet shelter or wildlife rehabilitation organization. In contrast, those who have organizational skills and a large network may want to consider organizing a food or toy drive.
Volunteering does confer health benefits on anyone who is willing to take some time out of his or her busy schedule and help the less fortunate. These benefits are available to anyone regardless of age, gender, geographic location, or the volunteer work that one engages in. Anyone can find a way to serve, and there is no shame in starting small or volunteering from home if one cannot get out and about. Furthermore, as Ian King Los Angeles has found for himself, volunteers also gain other benefits not related to mental and physical health. Volunteering boosts one’s self-esteem as a person discovers that he or she can be useful in serving others. It enables one to learn new skills that can, in turn, be taught to others or even used to build a business or switch careers. It connects people to like-minded individuals, thus increasing the size of one’s network. It can even provide on-the-job training and experience for college and university students as they put the skills they are learning into practice in the real world. When people volunteer, everyone wins, as the needy are served, and volunteers gain amazing benefits they would have missed out on otherwise.