Tutoring improves health of older adults

WASHINGTON-ST. LOUIS (US)—Tutoring young students may help people over 55 feel better, both mentally and physically. Researchers tracked volunteers in the Experience Corps, a program that encourages older adults to volunteer in their local communities, and found that compared to adults of similar age, the Corps participants were more physically active, had larger social networks, and rated higher on measures of self-esteem.

The findings come from researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The study shows that after a year with Experience Corps, about two-thirds of the least active members reported that they became significantly more physically active and more engaged in social and community events.

Lester Strong, CEO of Experience Corps (www.experiencecorps.org), says the new research underscores the value of doing meaningful work in the second half of life. “Our members know that they are making a difference in the lives of students who desperately need academic help and encouragement. That keeps them going—and healthy.”

Today, in 23 cities across the country, 2,000 Experience Corps members tutor and mentor elementary school students struggling to learn to read. Independent research shows that Experience Corps boosts student academic performance, helps schools and youth-serving organizations become more successful, and enhances the well-being of the older adults in the process. Washington University researchers also studied the impact of Experience Corps tutoring on students’ reading ability. The results, which demonstrate significant, positive gains in student learning, will be made available in April.

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