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Research shows that community service can improve health and decrease stress. The New York Times conducted a study where Cami Walker, a woman with multiple sclerosis, did a good deed a day for 29 days. This of course did not cure her, but gave her a newfound ability to cope with her disease. She is now less dependent on pain medication and flare-ups that routinely sent her to the emergency room have stopped. Scans show that her disease has stopped progressing. After a month of focusing on others, she was less preoccupied with her symptoms. She said “it has given me a more positive outlook on life. It’s about stepping outside of your own story long enough to make a connection with someone else.”

It is common knowledge that community service benefits the world, but it is less known the benefits it has to physical health. A study done in Miami found that patients with H.I.V. with strong altruistic characteristics had a lower level of stress hormones. Another study done at Boston College showed that patients with chronic pain fared better when they counseled other pain patients, experiencing less depression, intense pain, and disability. It is clear that community service is not only good for the soul, but good for the body as well.

Written by Robin Downes’ Yoga Flava for

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