The Surprising Health Tip That Doctors And Bosses Should Recommend

This story is part of our monthlong “Work Well” initiative, which focuses on thriving in the workplace. You can find more stories from this project here.

Volunteering has numerous health benefits, which is why doctors and bosses should more aggressively push giving back, according to a leading physician expert on the topic.

Many studies over the years have found direct correlations between giving back and improved health. And new research shows that volunteering may also translate into fewer hospital stays and taking better preventative measures — results that patients and employees should be made more aware of, says Dr. John W. Rowe, professor of health policy and aging at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

He even compared the health gains of giving back to those of quitting cigarettes.

“My personal view is that volunteering is the next great public health opportunity,” Rowe told The Huffington Post. “It may have as much benefit as smoking cessation. It has to become a priority.”

Rowe, co-author of the best-seller Successful Aging and founding director of the division on Aging at the Harvard Medical School, has committed his career and research to identifying ways people can continue to lead healthful and productive lives as they get older. But as is the case with any positive habits, they need to be developed early on in order to become cemented into a routine, Rowe noted.

The geriatrician says he feels particularly emboldened by continued findings that demonstrate how helping others can directly impact physical health, and wants doctors to inform their patients of those benefits and for employers to make it feasible for workers to give back for about four hours a week.

“I think if physicians were aware, they’d be very anxious,” Rowe said. “They ask people like me: ‘Are —> Read More