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Researchers find sustained improvement in health in Experience Corps tutors over 55
Date:3/16/2009

Tutors over 55 who help young students on a regular basis experience positive physical and mental health outcomes, according to studies released by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The tutors studied were members of Experience Corps, an award-winning organization that trains thousands of people over 55 to tutor children in urban public schools across the country.

Researchers at Washington University's Center for Social Development assessed the impact of the Experience Corps program on the lives of its members and found that, compared with adults of similar age, demographics and volunteer history, Experience Corps tutors reported improvements in mental health and physical functioning (including mobility, stamina and flexibility) and maintained overall health longer. In addition, Experience Corps members reported more physical activity, larger social networks and higher self-esteem as a result of their participation.

Other key findings:

  • The comparison group's levels of depression and functional limitations increased over a two-year period, while Experience Corps members experienced a significant decrease in both of those categories.

  • Both the comparison group and the Experience Corps group reported a decline in health over the two-year study period, but the Experience Corps members reported significantly less decline, suggesting that the program postpones age-related loss of health.

  • 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.

  • 84% of Experience Corps members report that their circle of friends a key measure of social well-being, particularly for aging adults increased as a result of their involvement in the program.

  • 86% of Experience Corps members say
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Contact: Jessica Martin
jessica_martin@wustl.edu
314-935-5251
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

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