Environmental volunteering and health outcomes over a 20-year period.
Aged, 80 and over
Quality of Life
This study tested the hypothesis that volunteering in environmental organizations in midlife is associated with greater physical activity and improved mental and physical health over a 20-year period.
The study used data from two waves (1974 and 1994) of the Alameda County Study, a longitudinal study of health and mortality that has followed a cohort of 6,928 adults since 1965. Using logistic and multiple regression models, we examined the prospective association between environmental and other volunteerism and three outcomes (physical activity, self-reported health, and depression), with 1974 volunteerism predicting 1994 outcomes, controlling for a number of relevant covariates.
Midlife environmental volunteering was significantly associated with physical activity, self-reported health, and depressive symptoms.
This population-based study offers the first epidemiological evidence for a significant positive relationship between environmental volunteering and health and well-being outcomes. Further research, including intervention studies, is needed to confirm and shed additional light on these initial findings.