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If you are always quick to give to others who are in need without thinking about what you might receive in return, you can take pride in knowing that your acts of kindness are helping to make the world a better place. It’s probably easy to see why this can lead to a number of mental benefits for you, including increased happiness and enhanced self-esteem. But, what you might not realize is that the positive effects of charitable giving can extend beyond your mental health and enhance your physical health, too.

Many of the physical benefits of altruism are likely related to the resulting reduction in stress. Stress is known to be a catalyst for many health issues, mainly because the body responds to stressful situations by releasing "fight or flight" hormones into the blood, which increase the heart rate and blood pressure. A leading cause of heart attacks and strokes, high blood pressure is viewed by many medical professionals as a bellwether of poor health.

While many people experience a reduction in stress after giving of themselves, the reasons are not clear-cut. Most likely, the ensuing calming effect is a result of a number of factors at play. Here are some possible theories:

  • A sense of meaning can be achieved through serving others, which in turn can have a satisfying effect that reduces stress.
  • Charitable giving in the form of volunteering may involve physical activity, and exercise is known to be a natural stress reliever.
  • People who take care of others are more likely to take care of themselves, too, by managing their stress levels, consuming a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, seeing a physician for regular checkups and adopting other healthy habits. 

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we recognize the wide-ranging benefits of charitable giving. Every day, we are making great strides toward the prevention, treatment and ultimate cure of cancer, and much of our progress is made possible through charitable giving. We are immensely grateful to the countless donors who embrace our mission along with us. As a direct result of their generosity, many of our patients are now able to call themselves "survivors."

If you are interested in joining Moffitt in its tireless fight again cancer, contact us at 1-888-663-3488. Whether you volunteer your time, become a member of a giving society, host a fundraiser or participate in a community event such as Miles for Moffitt, you can make a true difference in the lives of many people who are affected by cancer.