Healthy aging is something we all strive for, and more and more studies are finding that the lifestyle we choose plays a role in shaping our physical and mental health later in life. In addition to eating the right foods, getting enough sleep, and scheduling regular screenings, new research has uncovered yet another way we can stay well long into our senior years: working and volunteering.
Researchers in Canada recently analyzed more than 70 different studies involving adults over 50 who spent time volunteering. Based on their findings, just 2 to 3 hours a week in an active volunteering role was associated with better overall health, reduced symptoms of depression, fewer functional limitations, and greater longevity.
Along those same lines, a new study conducted by scientists at the University of Miami found that older adults who continued working or went back to work after retirement were in better physical shape than their non-working counterparts. The study looked at seniors employed in a broad range of professions—from service workers to those performing manual labor—and determined they were less likely to suffer from chronic health conditions or physical limitations.
In addition to the physical benefits associated with working and volunteering, previous studies have pointed to the mental and emotional health benefits they provide. Staying active and spending time helping others can go a long way toward promoting a healthy mind and a positive mood as we age.