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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Being charitable is good for humanity … and your health

Paul Anderson is only one example of a strong man who focused on giving to others.


We started this site in Nov. 2009 and this post is number #580. (These are all accessible in our archives on the right)That's a lot of information over a 5 year period. I don't know of many other sites that have been able to sustain such a consistent flow of information over such an extended time period.
 Some of the posts have been excellent and even ground breaking in a few cases. Some have been re-posted and published on other sites and magazines. Of course the majority of the posts have not been so exciting, but hopefully are interesting and educational. 
We have allowed ourselves to incorporate information from a wide variety of sources dealing with the health of the total being. Trying to stay true to our original intent of bringing back the Warrior ways, we have had posts on hard core training and lifting, nutrition, profiles of great individuals, some things about the Warrior attitude in the 21st century,and the general benefits of exercise. 
This post is not about training, yet fits our mission of promoting the Warrior way. A Warrior is a protector and provider. According to this article, there is evidence that this is also good for our health.


Being charitable is good for humanity … and your health
By Deborah Sutton For the Deseret News
Published: Tuesday, Oct. 28 2014 7:00 a.m. MDT

     While there are skeptics, there is evidence that giving money to a good cause kindles a pleasure center in the brain and enhances overall emotional well-being.
Ingredients for a healthier body are less pizza takeout, kale smoothies, a regular gym routine, going to bed early and — giving to charity.

 
In a new study in the Journal of Economic Psychology (pay wall), economist Bariş Yörük finds that charitable giving is correlated with better overall health and specifically reduces the probability of being diagnosed with high blood pressure, lung disease and arthritis.

 
In addition, Yörük suggests that increasing tax reductions for "charitable giving not only would increase the amount of charitable donations but also may positively affect the health status of the individuals in the United States."

 
While some experts are skeptical about the direct causal link between charitable giving and good health, there is evidence that giving money to a good cause kindles a pleasure center in the brain and enhances overall emotional well-being — even longer-life expectancy for older people.

     
Yet, some experts caution charities against touting health benefits to attract donors. They theorize that when donors replace selfless reasons for giving with selfish reasons, their giving decreases.


“If (charities) tell people to donate because it will help their health, this might lower their (altruistic) motivations for donating," says Sara Konrath, a social psychologist at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.


Health benefits of giving


Yörük, a professor of economics at the University of Albany, finds the irrational behavior of “people giving away a considerable fraction of their hard-earned income for the benefit of complete strangers quite interesting.”


Convinced that there must be a return on giving, Yörük delved into stacks of household survey data from the University of Michigan's Panel Study of Income.


Yörük collected information on household giving patterns and self-reported health status. He tested whether or not charitable giving is correlated with better overall health and specific major health problems. In his study, he controlled for income, gender, marital status and age to avoid ambiguous results.


He found that those who give, on average, score a point higher on the five-point health index and are less likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure, lung disease and arthritis.


According to his research, among people who do not give to charity, 4.9 percent reported having poor health and 20.5 percent reported having excellent health. And among those who give: only 0.8 percent reported having poor health, while 36.6 percent reported excellent health.


While his research does not imply causation, Yörük found a chain reaction of tax subsidies predicting charitable giving and charitable giving predicting health status.


Yörük is not alone in discovering correlations between good health and giving.


A University of Oregon research team found voluntary giving ignites neural activity in a pleasure center of the brain — the same region that is stimulated by cocaine, appealing art, attractive faces and photos of loved ones, according to MRI testing by William Harbaugh, Ulrich Mayr and Dan Burghart (pay wall).


Konrath and her colleague Stephanie Brown report other correlational studies that associated positive health outcomes with giving to others. They confirm that “signals of good health such as lower blood pressure and lower viral loads, and ultimately, a significantly lower risk of mortality in older adults or chronically ill patients” arise in charitable patients.


A 1988 study (pay wall) revealed that generosity enhances the immune system. Just thinking about “generosity significantly increases the protective antibody salivary immunoglobulin A, a protein used by the immune system,” says researchers David McClelland and Carol Kirshnit.


And not giving can have adverse effects. “Keeping money instead of giving to others increases the level of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress and low level of blood (glucose),” says researchers Elizabeth Dunn, Margaret Hanson, and Claire Ashton-James.


But Konrath advises that the benefits of giving are more complex than simple correlations.


There could be any number of reasons why people who give also have better health. Perhaps it is personality. Perhaps it is religious values. Perhaps it is not givers who become healthier but healthy people who become charitable. If you are healthy, then you have more disposable income and are generally better situated to give, she says.


What it means for nonprofits


Yörük says he hopes nonprofits and fundraisers use this research to promote more charitable giving and volunteering.


Scott Schenkelberg, the president and CEO of Miriam’s Kitchen, a supportive housing program that feeds and assists the homeless in Washington, D.C., says the research makes sense. “People are better off when they share,” he says. “When you give of your time and resources, I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t be psychologically and therefore psychically better.”


Schenkelberg says organizations like Miriam’s Kitchen should implement these findings as a rational appeal to donors. It’s a good thing “if you can reinforce to people that being generous of your time and money is not only beneficial to the organizations that you like, but also to your own health,” he says.


Having a self-interest in giving is what James Andreoni, an economics professor at the University of California San Diego, calls “impure altruism.” But that's OK. He told the New York Times that all giving has a caveat of self-interest, where it's personal pleasure or “helper’s high,” feeling noble and socially responsible, or seeming more sexually attractive to your date as the British Journal of Psychology asserts.


Konrath disagrees. Some people are compelled to give by true altruism, she says. And over-justifying reasons to give could have adverse consequences, reports a Harvard Business School study.


When people start to give for selfish reasons, the self-interested incentives begin to crowd out the altruistic incentives. “As a result, helping behavior may increase in the short term as people seek benefits, but decrease in the long-term as people’s inherent interest in the welfare of others declines," the Harvard study found.


In addition, if people give to get something back, they likely “won’t experience the same health benefits,” says Konrath.


Spillover effects


Yörük concludes his study by arguing for larger tax breaks for charitable giving as a way to improve overall health. Research shows “that charitable giving is very responsive to tax subsidies,” he says. And his research “suggests that further expansions in the subsidy to charitable giving not only would increase the amount of charitable donations but also may positively affect the health status of the individuals in the United States.”


Not so fast, says Konrath. “We don’t actually know what is causing the change in health,” so it is too early to make a leap toward increasing tax subsidies, she says.


Coming from the nonprofit sector, Schenkelberg is also hesitant to raise tax subsidies for charitable giving. Increasing tax benefits may motivate people to give more, but it could also tear a hole in the tax base the government uses to help the disenfranchised, he argues.


Government subsidies are especially important in aiding the homeless. “The private sector doesn’t have the resources to end chronic homelessness,” says Schenkelberg, “we rely on the government to provide housing vouchers to people and other kinds of income support — and those are tax dollars.”



dsutton@deseretnews.com | Twitter: @debylene

Here is a great talk on charity..............


Below are some more pictures of Paul Anderson through various stages of his life as an Olympic medalist and strongman who raised funds for his orphanage.
















  1. Paul Anderson

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