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Volunteering benefits age-related

Press AssociationPress Association 8/08/2016

Middle-aged and elderly people can boost their mental wellbeing by volunteering, a UK study suggests.

But the study from the universities of Southampton and Birmingham found those aged under 40 are less likely to reap similar benefits.

Volunteering has previously been linked to improved mental wellbeing, but this is the first time researchers have examined its benefit across different age groups.

The new study, published in the journal BMJ Open, examined data from 5000 households across the UK with questions on volunteering being asked between 1996 and 2008.

Participants were also asked about their general health and wellbeing.

The authors found that, when not considering age, those who engaged in volunteering regularly appeared to experience higher levels of mental wellbeing than those who never volunteered.

But when they looked into volunteering across different age groups they discovered the association between volunteering and wellbeing only became apparent above the age of 40 years and continuing up to old age.

"The association between volunteering and mental wellbeing varies at different points in the life course," the authors wrote.

"These findings argue for more efforts to involve middle-aged people to older people in volunteering-related activities.

"Volunteering action might provide those groups with greater opportunities for beneficial activities and social contacts, which in turn may have protective effects on health status."

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