Illustrated by Isabelle Rancier and Gabriela Alford.
Doing nice things is a very nice thing to do. Such has been the gospel taught to young children for years, though we know it doesn't always work out that well. But, it turns out it's more than just a platitude — participating in kind and charitable activities can actually improve physical health. Scientific American reports that a new study out of the University of British Columbia found that among 106 high school students tested, regular charitable activity resulted in a markedly lower level of cholesterol and inflammation.
For the study, the group was separated in two — half of the students spent an hour a week for ten weeks helping out younger students with homework, sports, or other activities. The other half carried on normally without engaging in any volunteer work. After the study, the first half showed improved heart conditions, while the second half showed no change. And before you ask, no, the benefits didn't correlate with more physically strenuous volunteer activities (though if memory serves, trying to learn cursive in elementary school is pretty taxing).
Of course, this isn't conclusive (nor is it new news...just sayin', we kinda told you so) This is a small sample size and extensive testing in addition to more carefully controlled situations will probably be required to determine whether or not there's an actual causal link between charity and heart health. But, while you're enjoying your daily glass of red wine, stuffing your face with various heart-healthy grocery store products, and trying to fit some cardio in, a little charity can't hurt. (Scientific American)