If you've ever volunteered in your community or your child's school, you know that it can be a particularly gratifying experience. It feels good to help other people. And guess what? Those good feelings often translate to good health for you down the road. Studies show that people who volunteer experience reduced rates of depression, live longer, and have an overall greater satisfaction with life than those who don't.

And you don't have to give up all of your free time to get the benefits. Studies show that volunteering just 40 hours per year can help improve your health and mood. The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research, sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)  recently took a look at studies like these that show the connection between volunteering and good health. The report shows that volunteers have greater longevity, higher functional ability, lower rates of depression and less incidence of heart disease. In the words of David Eisner, CEO of CNCS, "volunteering makes the heart grow stronger."

To find a volunteer opportunity in your area, check out the volunteer listings at Volunteer Match, Serve.gov, Idealist or the American Red Cross.  

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.