Being kind is good for your health, new report confirms

Researcher Stephen Post studies the psychological and physical effects of being kind. He says the science is conclusive: it’s good for you.

Helping others is good for your health.

There's a premise that sounds like it came straight from the pages of the 'do-gooder brigade handbook.' Idealistic, wishful thinking. Kinda flaky, even.

The thing is, it's true.

Stephen Post is a professor of medicine at Stony Brook University in Long Island, New York.

His research looks at the effects of being helpful and volunteering on things like pain management and addiction treatment.

He joined Tapestry summer guest host Kinnie Starr to talk about the growing body of research into the mental and physical effects of kindness. 

Helping others can lower your stress and have lasting physical benefits says Stephen Post. ( Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Here are just a few of the upsides of being kind, from a 2010 US study that surveyed 5000 randomly selected adults about volunteerism. Among those who volunteered:

• 96% of the volunteers reported that volunteering makes them happier;

• 68% said volunteering ''has made me feel physically healthier;"

• 92% reported that it ''enriches my sense of purpose in life;''

• 78% that it helps with recovery ''from loss and disappointment:''

And the list goes on.

Another study found that volunteering led to lower cholesterol and inflammation in high-school students and further studies found that it significantly reduced hypertension in older adults.

Volunteers prepare meals for homeless and impoverished people. Being kind to others can help you live a better and even longer life. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Post says, several studies of older adults show that - after controlling for other physical conditions -  those that volunteer even live one or two years longer than their non-volunteering counterparts."If you could put this in a bottle and market it, you'd be a billionaire overnight. But the thing is, it's right within us," he says.

Post has even addressed the United States Congress, arguing that the medical community should be empowered to use volunteer work as a treatment option for a long list of health conditions.

Here's a PDF of Stephen Post's recent paper in the American Journal of Health Promotion:  Rx It's Good to be Good 2017

Throughout the episode we featured some of Kinnie's music, check out the playlist below:

1) Song: Wind in Your Sail, Artist: Kinnie Starr, Album: Anything
2) Song: Anything, Artist: Kinnie Starr, Album: Anything
3) Song: We Are Sky, Artist: Kinnie Starr, CBC premiere