Volunteers Report Improved Physical, Emotional Health

  • UnitedHealthcare/VolunteerMatch Benefits of Volunteering Survey Finds Volunteers Gain as Much as They Give

MINNETONKA, Minn./SAN FRANCISCO — 

A new survey released today by UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) business, and VolunteerMatch, a national nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities by helping great people and great causes connect, found that 68 percent of those who volunteered in the past year report that volunteering has made them feel physically healthier.

Issued in advance of National Volunteer Week (April 18-24, 2010), the UnitedHealthcare/VolunteerMatch Do Good. Live Well. Survey of more than 4,500 Americans over the age of 18 identified some of the key health benefits of volunteering.

According to the survey, 41 percent of Americans volunteered in the past year, while seven in 10 Americans report they donated money to an organization, despite the current economic hardships. Of the volunteers, 84 percent agreed that volunteering improves physical health, and 95 percent agreed that volunteering also improves emotional health. Additionally, 96 percent of volunteers agreed that volunteering makes people happier.

“Volunteering is an activity we all can do, not only to serve our neighbors and communities, but also to improve our own well-being,” said Dr. Mark Leenay, UnitedHealthcare senior vice president. “We are proud to provide volunteering opportunities for our employees and to develop important chronic disease management and prevention programs for those we serve to ensure the health and well-being of our global community.”

According to the survey, volunteering appears to correspond to a healthier Body Mass Index (BMI), with a significantly lower proportion of volunteers identified as obese (31 percent) when compared to non-volunteers (36 percent). Twenty-nine percent of volunteers who suffer from a chronic condition say that volunteering has helped them manage a chronic illness.

“It has been said a little volunteering never hurt anyone -- but who knew it could actually make you healthier?” said Greg Baldwin, president of VolunteerMatch. “We're delighted to work with UnitedHealthcare to help share the good news.”

The survey also shows that corporations play a key role in promoting volunteerism – 25 percent of respondents who volunteer do so through their place of work. Of those, 76 percent agree that they feel better about their employer because of their employer’s involvement in their volunteer activities. These volunteers are not only more likely to have better job satisfaction through work-related volunteerism, but volunteers are significantly more likely (36 percent) to rate their overall satisfaction with their lives as “very good” compared to non-volunteers (26 percent). Volunteers are also more likely (40 percent) to say they have a “very good” sense of purpose in their lives, compared to non-volunteers (27 percent).

Fueled by the belief that volunteerism can improve the health of communities and help people live healthier lives, UnitedHealthcare last year launched “Do Good. Live Well.” (www.DoGoodLiveWell.org), an initiative designed to inspire a new level of service and volunteerism in communities across the country.

The “Do Good. Live Well.” initiative is part of UnitedHealthcare’s involvement in the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s (EIF) “iParticipate” initiative (www.iParticipate.org) – a multi-year campaign that aims to inspire a new era of volunteerism in America by leveraging members of the entertainment industry to set the example. iParticipate encourages support for five key areas of service: Education & Children, Health & Well Being, Economic Development, Environmental Conservation, and Support for Military Families.

UnitedHealthcare/VolunteerMatch Benefits of Volunteering Survey Methodology:
In February 2010, UnitedHealthcare and VolunteerMatch sponsored a study among Americans to understand patterns of volunteering in the United States and its relationship to health and well-being. An online survey was administered to a national sample of 4,582 Americans over the age of 18 regarding their health and their propensity to volunteer. The sampling plan was balanced and the data were weighted to reflect the demographic profile of the U.S. adult population.

The main objectives of the study were to assess current perceptions of Americans’ own physical and emotional health, determine attitudes and beliefs about volunteering, determine the effect of volunteering on the volunteer, measure incidence and motivation of volunteerism in the U.S., gauge popularity and impact of workplace volunteer opportunities, and highlight the differences between seniors who volunteer and those who do not in terms of health and lifestyle.

The study was conducted by TNS (Taylor Nelson Sofres) from Feb. 25 to March 8, 2010. TNS is the world’s largest custom research agency. TNS provides comprehensive industry knowledge within the Consumer, Technology, Finance, Automotive and Political & Social sectors, supported by a unique product offering that stretches across the entire range of marketing and business issues, specializing in product development & innovation, brand & communication, stakeholder management, retail & shopper, and qualitative research. Delivering best-in-class service across more than 75 countries, TNS is part of Kantar, the world’s largest research, insight and consultancy network. Please visit www.tns-global.com for more information. The entire survey can be viewed at www.DoGoodLiveWell.org/OurCommitment.html.

About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to making health care work better. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through six operating businesses: UnitedHealthcare, Ovations, AmeriChoice, OptumHealth, Ingenix, and Prescription Solutions. Through its family of businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves 70 million individuals nationwide.

About VolunteerMatch
VolunteerMatch is a national nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities by helping good people and good causes to connect. Its award-winning online service, www.VolunteerMatch.org, makes it easy to find a way to make a difference by location, expertise, or availability, and is the #1 ranking for “volunteer” on Google, Yahoo! and Bing. In addition to its public Web site, VolunteerMatch provides many of the nation's most recognized businesses, campuses and organizations with Web-based solutions to facilitate and track their volunteer engagement. The VolunteerMatch network regularly welcomes more than 190,000 visitors each week and has become the preferred volunteer recruiting service for tens of thousands of participating nonprofits. 

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Volunteers Report Improved Physical, Emotional Health