Volunteering and other good deeds reduce physical pain, a study finds

Volunteer work. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
Volunteer work. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

There’s no doubt about it: doing volunteer work is helpful for your community as a whole. But new research is now showing that philanthropy can also be beneficial to your health.

A team of researchers from Peking University in China examined the health benefits of being more altruistic and overall they found that participants dealing with physical pain benefited from volunteering.

This is not the first time altruism has been linked to improved physical and mental health.

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A 2017 study conducted by the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health found that chronic pain sufferers who volunteered reported decreased pain along with an improved sense of purpose.

Volunteering has been shown to minimise stress and improve depression, and previous studies have even shown that doing good deeds can help us live longer, NCBI reported.

The most recent study carried out by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNCS) aimed to more deeply explore why people may feel less pain when performing good deeds and may have found one reason why: regions of the brain that react to painful stimulation appear to be instantly deactivated by the experience of giving.

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"Whereas most of the previous theories and research have emphasised the long-term and indirect benefits for altruistic individuals, the present research demonstrated that participants under conditions of pain benefited from altruistic acts instantly," the study authors revealed. 

Overall the research proves that pain can be mitigated while helping others.

Although the authors insist that additional research is necessary to expand on the notion, CNN reports that they believe pairing volunteer work with a medicine regimen can “supplement current behavioural therapies to treat pain”.

Sources: Peking University, CNN, National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, NCBI, PNCS

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