Looking to incorporate more giving into your busy schedule? Between work, family, and the simple day to day tasks that seem to pile up, volunteering often seems to fall to the wayside. But what if you could combine your fitness goals with your service goals?
Just like exercise, volunteering and helping others has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety, lower risk for high blood pressure, and foster positive social interaction. Don’t miss these 5 creative ideas for fitness-inspired volunteer projects:
Fun run, color run, walkathon, 5K, you name it . . . chances are a charity run is happening sometime in your city! Not only are charity athletic activities super family friendly, but they are a great way to give back to the community, especially when proceeds from your registration go towards a cause or organization you care about (or you raise money on behalf of your organization). Don’t run? Don’t worry! Walking is always an option. Find charity athletic events near you with sites like Active.com.
Want to give back and stay fit? Then get outside! Hiking the trails to cut back overgrown brush and pick up litter, kayaking the river to scoop up trash, even traversing the neighborhood park to beautify and clean the landscape are all awesome low-impact exercises that are great for your health. Many neighborhood and town organizations will coordinate community clean-up projects so follow your favorite nonprofits and environmental groups on social media for the latest announcements.
Looking to be a mentor for young people and have a love of sports? Volunteer to be a youth athletic sports or activities coach for kids in your area (or abroad!). With a commitment to fitness, you know what an impact sports can have in your life – from building dedication to instilling endurance and skill and teaching teamwork. Recreational sports leagues are always looking for skilled and helpful coaches looking to volunteer their time.
Break a sweat and give back when you take part in physical volunteering activities like stocking and moving boxes at the food bank or running the dogs around the dog park for the local animal shelter. While serving others might come in the form of cooking meals, tutoring, serving in your kid’s classroom, or visiting elderly folks in the nursing home, volunteering can also come in the form of heart-pounding exercise. Find volunteer opportunities near you that match your interests with tools like VolunteerMatch.org.
Does your company prioritize company-wide giving? Many corporate volunteer programs involve one or two days of the year where all the employees commit to a service project together like building a house or completely rehauling and beautifying a community center. Talk to your company heads about employee giving and what types of service opportunities might be available to you and your colleagues through work.
Tips for Volunteering
Getting the most out of your time and effort to help as deeply as you can isn’t simply luck. Keep these tips and best practices in mind when volunteering:
When possible, sign up for a specific shift and volunteer job so you’re not arriving to a service project where the leaders are not equipped to wrangle so many volunteers
Make sure to note whether the volunteer job you have signed up for requires any orientation or training time, or waivers
Don’t let pain get in the way. If volunteering to lift heavy boxes (like at a food bank) or set up equipment (like at a house build), you may want to wear a lower back brace for extra support and spine stabilization
Track your volunteer time and even your charitable donations to see if your company will consider matching them
Volunteer your time doing something you enjoy! You’ll get more out of the experience and be able to bring useful skills and know-how to the group and event
How do you like to help others while staying fit?