A benefit for volunteers: a lower risk of hypertension

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 24, 2013

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Older adults who volunteer for at least 200 hours a year are 40% less likely to develop hypertension during a four-year period than nonvolunteers, said a study published in the June issue of Psychology and Aging.

That association persisted even after controlling for chronic illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes and heart problems, the study said.

Adults who volunteered also had greater psychological well-being and reported larger increases in physical activity during the study period than people who did not do volunteer work, data show.

Researchers examined data on 1,654 adults older than 50 who participated in the Health and Retirement Study between 2006 and 2010.

At the start of the study, participants reported how many hours they spent volunteering in the past 12 months.

Researchers assessed adults’ blood pressure, functional limitations, physical activity levels and psychological well-being at the beginning of the study and in 2010.

The findings suggest that volunteerism might be an effective, nonpharmacological intervention for reducing hypertension risk, according to the study authors.

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