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A Giving Heart Leads to Good Heart Health

December 16, 2010

They don’t have to be random, but engaging in acts of kindness is another way to reduce stress and improve your quality of life.  The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation site  has a list of the health benefits associated with simply being nice.

Give for Heart HealthThey also explain a little further, for those who are like me and like a little research to back up claims. Here’s some of what they shared: 

Hans Selye wrote a groundbreaking book in 1956 called The Stress of Life and actually coined the term “stress.” He explained that stress causes certain physical responses that are meant to give us a boost of strength, enabling us to deal with dangerous circumstances. But if this state is prolonged, the corticosteroids released will suppress immune-system functioning. The article goes on to explain, “Increased adrenaline and corticosteroids can aggravate diabetes. And as the adrenaline-produced fatty acids needed for energy stay in the blood, the liver converts them into cholesterol, which can lead to arteriosclerosis. A speeded-up heart rate, if prolonged, will increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.”  He recommended “altruistic egoism” as the best response to stress.

This idea was proven in a study done by Allan Luks, the former executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of Health and executive director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of New York City. In his book The Healing Power of Doing Good: The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others, he shares his findings. The conclusion was that “Helping contributes to the maintenance of good health, and it can diminish the effect of diseases and disorders both serious and minor, psychological and physical.”

Study subjects reported a “helper’s high” which is a rush of euphoria from the release of the body’s natural painkillers, the endorphins, followed by a longer period of a calm sense of well-being, after performing a kind act.

Find out more at actsofkindness.org!