Various reports from researchers have confirmed that acts of generosity are associated with some physiological (Seligman et al., 2005) as well as social benefits (Wilson and Musick, 1997, p. 699). One of the very important benefits that researchers have reported is the increased production of antibodies which are necessary in producing immune responses and thus protecting the body against infections (Brown et al., 2003; Field et al., 1998, Rosmond, Dallman, & Bjormtorp, 1998).
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A healthy heart condition is also promoted as well as reduced body pain by increasing the speed at which endorphin flows in the brain (endorphin is a neurochemical possessing pain relieving properties).
An area involved in generous activities from time to time is likely to experienced reduced rates of deaths compared to one which do not engage in such activities. Generosity is also associated with the decrease of cortisol hormone levels. High levels of this hormone are known to cause stress and retention of fats in the stomach (Rosmond, Dallman, & Bjormtorp, 1998).
Field et al conducted an investigation on the effects of elderly people who volunteer to offer massage services to infants. Ten volunteers gave massages to infants after which their levels of cortisol and catecholamine were determined. According to the findings of the study, the levels of the two hormones were lower after the massages were given compared to the levels before the massages (Field, Hernandez-Reif, Quintino, Schanberg & Kuhn 1998, p. 233).
The endorphin hormone whose release is associated with generosity is composed of morphine which reacts with receptors involved with pleasure and pain. The advantage involved with endorphins is that they are released in many forms and hence are more effective in relieving pain than the artificial pain killers. In addition, they are not addictive as many of the man made pain killers are (Sternberg, 2001).
Engaging in generosity and other social activities helps promote one’s physical health by obtaining sensations in a similar way that people involved in physical exercises benefit (Luks, 1990, p. 42). As a result, feelings of depression and body ache experiences are lower in such people as they tend to get stronger and energetic.
According to Moll and colleagues, endorphins associated with selfless giving give one the feeling of well being (Moll, Kruger, Zan, Pardini, Souza et al, 2006, p. 15625).
A research conducted by Moll and colleagues involved participants who were required to donate $128.00 given to them to social activities but without giving their identities. The two activities were in support of rights to abortion and abolishment of death penalty. Through the use of the Functioning Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI), the researchers found out that giving donations resulted to activation of the brain’s reward centers in the participants who accepted the charity course.
The study also showed that engagement in generous acts activates the mesolimbic pathways of the brain which are involved in regulation of behavioral responses to stimuli that activate feelings of reward and motivation. The activation of the pathway is also responsible for responses to food, sex, drugs and money. Such individuals are therefore easy to respond to feelings and grow stronger emotionally (Moll, Kruger, Zan, Pardini, Souza et al, 2006, p. 15627).
The improvement of the cardiovascular system is another very significant effect of involvement in generous acts. Good cardiovascular heath helps in reduces attacks to the heart as well as improving the body’s immune response by promoting the production of antibodies.
A lot of stress causes negative effects on the cardiovascular and the immune systems by causing continuous flight and fight responses (Sternberg, 2001). The emotions involves when one engages in generous acts allows the body to maintain balance and reduce the risk of a rise in blood pressure through vasodilatation.
A study by Brown and colleagues looked at the relation between giving and rates of mortality. Couples that offered support to others either through social activities or personal assistance were found to have lower rates of deaths than those who were not (Brown, Neese, Vinokur, & Smith, 2003, p. 329).
Besides hormonal benefits, participation in social activities is also associated with psychological effects where one feels satisfied with life and practically lives a quality life. A feeling of well being and depression free is also a positive impact. In 1980, Hunter and Lin conducted an investigation which compared the well being of the elder volunteer social workers and the retired people who did not participate in any of these activities.
Since the study did not involve segmentation of the population, participation in volunteer activities was the only explanation behind the results which showed that the volunteers were less depressed; satisfied with the life they were living and had less physical problems (Hunter & Linn, 1981, p. 210). Similarly, a study by Wheeler and colleagues on generosity and its effects on quality of life confirmed that 85% of the volunteers they had studied lived a quality life compared to those who did not.
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Involvement in social activities helps in building strong relationships with the community as a whole and also gives people the opportunity to experience life different from what they are used to. This connection within a community also promotes citizenship identity. As a result anti social behaviors especially among the youths are discouraged (Allen, Kupermic, Philliber & Herre, 1994). One is also in a position to nurture interpersonal relations, trust and above all, respect for all human being (Wilson & Musick, 2004).
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