4 ways you can volunteer to feel great

June 30, 2015

Volunteering makes you feel good and gets you out of the house more often, increasing your activity level and improving your self-esteem. Helping others can lower your risk of depression, high blood pressure and heart disease.

4 ways you can volunteer to feel great

 1. Help a neighbour

Combine the obvious health benefits of exercise and fresh air with subtler feel-good benefits that come from doing good deeds.

  • Look around you; is a neighbour in need?
  • Offer to mow the lawn, shovel the driveway, water the plants or walk the dog.
  • Or bring by some library books, a few DVDs or a home-baked meal for a homebound neighbour.

2. Start a walking school bus

It's like a carpool — without the car — and with the added benefits of exercise and socializing with friends and neighbours.

  • This can be as informal as two neighbourhood families taking turns walking their children to school, or as structured as a route with several meeting points, a timetable and a regular rotating schedule.
  • To get started, invite families who live nearby to walk, pick a route to your child's school and take a test walk. Then decide how often the group will walk together (you can start with one, two or three days a week).

3. Coach or ref a team

Volunteer to coach for a community soccer, basketball or football team — or umpire a Little League baseball game.

  • Alternatively, you could volunteer to help run drills or do jumping jacks with kids during their warm-up time.
  • Coaches of young kids' teams often appreciate an extra hand.

4. Read to others

Even if your children are grown, your community is full of kids who need volunteer grandparents, aunts and uncles to read at local schools or daycare centres. What better way to pass on your wisdom to the next generation?

  • If you offer to volunteer at a school or child-care facility, be prepared to fill out some forms and have a health check.
  • Alternatively, you could help an illiterate adult learn to read. Many libraries have volunteer programs and offer free training on helping adults learn to read.

Whether it's at your place of worship, library or humane society, volunteering is good for you and others, and can even help you manage your diabetes in indirect ways.

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