Regular exercise, weight control, and a nutritious diet are the three main ways to ensure that you remain fit and free from chronic aches and pains.
Giving to charities has been discovered by researchers to be a different, more improbable factor that can have a strikingly substantial impact. According to growing data, performing small acts of kindness or altruism, like giving money or your time in exchange for nothing, can have a significant positive impact on our health, possibly extending our lifespans and boosting our immune systems.
Following this, researchers from London University wanted to determine if pro-social behavior, which is defined as suffering that lasts for three months or longer, may also reduce the likelihood of developing chronic pain.
In addition to physical pain, some studies indicate that up to 85% of people with chronic pain also experience depression as a result. This frequently diminishes the desire to engage in self-care activities that could relieve discomfort, such as regular, light exercise.
In the most recent study, researchers analyzed data from 48,000 participants in the UK Household Longitudinal Survey, a long-term study into all facets of health, from 2011 to 2020. This data included information on rates of chronic pain and so-called prosocial behavior, which is essentially acting in others' best interests.
Participants in the study were questioned about whether they had given money to charity in the previous year and, if so, how much.
The number of individuals who claimed that chronic pain had substantially impacted their life during the nine-year study period was compared to these details.
The findings, which were released last month, revealed that giving to charities significantly decreased the likelihood that people will have or report chronic pain of any type. However, volunteering had an even greater effect.
And those who did both reaped the biggest rewards.
The most plausible explanation, according to the researchers, is that volunteering typically entails some sort of physical activity, which triggers the production of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, and mood enhancers.
However, merely donating can have a comparable impact.
According to a 2013 study by psychologists at Arizona State University, those over 55 who supplied free assistance to others or charity had a minimum 24% lower risk of dying before their time than those of the same age who did not. According to Dr. Tang, this may be essential for those attempting to maintain their physical and mental health after retirement. "In addition to the social interaction, you are exercising and maintaining flexible joints."
According to other research, deeds of kindness can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing levels of stress chemicals like cortisol, which can raise blood pressure. A significant risk factor for heart attacks and strokes is high blood pressure.
And even just witnessing another person act selflessly might strengthen your immune system.
Researchers at Harvard University in the United States recruited a group of volunteers to watch a movie depicting the generous deeds performed in India by Mother Teresa for one important study back in 1988.
A second group was required to view a movie about Hitler's World War II exploits. Immunoglobulin A, a molecule secreted by the immune system as a defense against germs, poisons, and viruses, was measured in blood samples taken before and after the experiment to determine the amounts of immunoglobulin A in the participants.
The findings revealed that while those who saw the Hitler showreel had no change in immunoglobulin A, those who viewed Mother Teresa's charitable actions experienced a substantial increase.
The 'Mother Teresa effect' refers to the belief that simply seeing acts of compassion might have a positive impact on one's health:
But according to Dr. Tang, performing a kind deed will likely have a greater positive impact than merely witnessing one.
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