When was the last time you did something nice for someone? If the answer doesn’t come to mind quickly, it’s time to act. This month we describe how acts of kindness offered once a day — like a vitamin — can offer much the same benefits.

Let’s face it, we all appreciate when someone does something nice for us. But did you know the helper is getting something as well? There are numerous scientific reports documenting the health benefits that helping others provides. Acts of kindness improve emotional health, self-esteem, and even physical problems.

People often describe a “helper’s high” that accompanies a good deed. This feeling of satisfaction comes from the release of chemicals called endorphins, a natural painkiller that also reduces anxiety and tension. That explains why folks in pain often feel an improvement in symptoms when doing good deeds. Studies show the “high” happens in nearly 95% of all people! A 95% success rate and it doesn’t cost a dime.

Authors Allan Luks and Peggy Payne studied the positive effect of kindness on health and have written extensively on the subject. Cardiologist Herbert Benson has devoted much of his professional life to documenting just what goes into feelings we experience when we do something kind for another human being. He reports that kindness and relaxation protect the heart while feelings like rage, hostility and anger make heart disease — the nation’s leading killer — worse. There are even reports that kind people may live longer!

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation offers hundreds of ways people can receive the benefits of giving. Some we like to include: forgiving someone, helping someone carry a package or do a chore, or picking up the tab for the person behind you in a line or at a drive thru (that one really shocks people). You can visit the foundation by going to www.actsofkindness.org.

Continue reading December 2021 Newsletter: Top Fitness Gifts