AUSTIN (KXAN) — Research shows the act of volunteering has both physical and mental health benefits.

“We’re really excited about these dual benefits for our older adults,” said Atalaya Sergi, the director of AmeriCorps Seniors.

AmeriCorps recently conducted a longitudinal study and found more than 80% of its volunteers report positive impacts on their health after just one year of service.

“It showed that 88% of volunteers reported a decrease in feelings of isolation, 84% reported improved or stable health at a time when we would think that their health would be declining,” Sergi said.

The Mayo Clinic backed up the report with separate research showing older volunteers said a feeling of meaning and appreciation gave them a stress-reducing effect. Researchers said less stress leads to a decreased risk of physical and mental health problems, such has heart disease, stroke, depression, anxiety and general illness.

“While they are serving others, they are also benefiting from the service they’re doing,” Sergi added.

AmeriCorps survey found volunteers who devote about 100 hours or more each year are the most likely to experience health benefits.

If you would like to find out for yourself, AmeriCorps has volunteer opportunities in Austin.  

“We work with Coming of Age. It’s through the Texas Department of Health,” Sergi said. “Those volunteers help mentor children and youth. They support nutrition and food distribution and engage families in activities to really help increase their quality of life.”

More information on how to volunteer with AmeriCorps is available online.