Give, if You Know What’s Good for You
Using a device that automatically measured their blood pressure, we saw a clear difference between our spending groups. People who spent money on themselves showed no change whatsoever, whereas people assigned to use the money in generous ways showed a significant reduction in blood pressure. To our surprise, this change was similar in magnitude to what is typically observed when people start engaging in regular aerobic exercise.
…We discovered that the more money people had reported spending on others, the lower their blood pressure was two years later. We thought this effect might be accounted for by variables such as income, physical activity or marital status, but no matter how we looked at the data, financial generosity was linked to lower blood pressure.
This research…provides the first causal evidence that spending money on others may improve physical health.