Want to be healthier? Volunteer!

By Jane Glenn Haas, Orange County Register

Volunteering can help you live longer.

People who volunteer “feel better all over,” says Chandra Torgerson, senior vice president and chief nursing officer for United Healthcare.

According to the UnitedHealthcare/VolunteerMatch Do Good, Live Well, survey of more than 4,000 seniors:

  • 87 percent who volunteer say they are aging well, as opposed to 78 percent of those who don’t volunteer;

  • 86 percent of senior volunteers feel younger than their age, compared to 72 percent of those who don’t volunteer;

  • 69 percent say they feel good about getting older, compared to 59 percent of seniors who don’t volunteer.

Volunteering keeps you healthy, lowers stress level, gives you purpose in life, Torgerson says.

Q. All well and good to encourage people to volunteer, but not everyone wants to work at a church, a hospital or a school.

True. That’s why we encourage people to go to volunteermatch.org.

It’s a national nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities by connecting good people to good causes. We think it is the preferred volunteering recruiting service for thousands of participating nonprofits.

Q. And United Healthcare partnered with them?

Together, we surveyed more than 4,500 seniors and found that 68 percent of those who volunteered say they feel physically healthier, among other benefits.

Q. Do employers recognize the value of volunteering for their employees?

Some do – and more companies are recognizing it every day.

At United Healthcare, 70 percent of our own employees actively volunteered in 2009. It is part of our company commitment to volunteering to give our people some time off to help them in these endeavors.

We know they feel physically better all over and their stress level is lowered.

Q. You are trying to create a national movement?


Go to dogoodlivewell.org. You will not only find the benefits of volunteering but also some helpful steps in identifying what type of activity would best suit your talents and passions.

We’re trying to contact as many seniors a possible. There is lots to do and we need lots of people to help us.

Q. Some other benefits of volunteering?

Our survey shows 92 percent say they have an enriched sense of purpose in life. They are more optimistic.

And here’s another benefit – a lower proportion of volunteers (31 percent) were identified as obese when compared to non-volunteers (36 percent).

Q. Volunteering as part of your diet?

Why not? 


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