Better, longer living through acts of selflessness


Giving your time to help others in need may be good for health and longevity. According to a new US study, practical assistance positively affects the relationship between stress and risk of death. Tangible assistance can include things like helping friends or neighbors by providing transportation, helping with errands or shopping, housework, babysitting and other tasks requiring time.

Giving and living… longer and healthier

“This study offers a significant contribution to the research literature on the relationship between social environment and health, and specifically to our understanding of how giving assistance to others may offer health benefits to the giver by buffering the negative effects of stress,” explained lead author Michael J. Poulin, assistant professor psychology at the University at Buffalo.

Isolation, stress cause early death; generosity increases longevity

It is known that social isolation and stress contribute to ill health and premature death. However, no one had studied the opposite: does social interaction and support buffer exposure to stress and premature death? Poulin and his team from the University at Buffalo and Stony Brook University wondered if providing help to others would predict a reduced stress level and greater longevity for those lending the assistance. “Specifically over the five years of the study, we found that when dealing with stressful situations, those who had helped others during the previous year were less likely to die than those who had not helped others,” noted Poulin.

Helping others reduces stress which increases life

“When we adjusted for age, baseline health and functioning and key psychosocial variables, the Cox proportional hazard models (the most widely used method of survival analysis) for mortality revealed a significant interaction between helping behavior, stressful events, morbidity and mortality,” said Poulin. “Helping others predicted reduced mortality specifically by buffering the association between stress and mortality,” Poulin concluded.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, American Journal of Public Health


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