A study published in the journal Psychology and Aging suggests that helping others can help seniors lower blood pressure by up to 40 percent. Over the years, we have learned that negative lifestyle factors such as poor diet and lack of exercise increase hypertension risk or worsen it for those who have it.
According to the lead author of the study, Rodlescia Sneed, a PhD candidate in psychology at Carnegie Mellon University’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences in Pittsburgh, said, “we wanted to determine if a positive lifestyle factor like volunteer work could actually reduce disease risk. And, the results give older adults an example of something that they can actively do to remain healthy and age successfully."
The researchers looked at 1,164 adults between the ages of 51 and 91 over four years. They found that those who volunteered at least 200 hours per year decreased the risk of hypertension by up to 40 percent, irrespective of kind of volunteering they did. Researchers believe that volunteering activities provide seniors social connections that they might not have otherwise, which promote healthy aging and reduces risk for a number of negative health outcomes.
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