Sinclair Cares: Volunteer taps into the fountain of youth by helping others
For thousands of Americans retirement is becoming a whole new chapter in life with time to get physically active and extend your life. Our parent company Sinclair Broadcast Group considers it a privilege to bring you stories of health and healing.
In tonight's Sinclair Cares, Kimberly King introduces us to one man who has found the fountain of youth helping others.
To say Mel Skiles is amazingly fit would be an understatement.
"I've done something ever since I was a young kid," he said.
The former radiologist is 72 and married to Sandra. The couple moved to the North Carolina mountains to be closer to their grandchildren.
"I retired on February 2011 and two weeks later I started the Appalachian Trail," he said.
He harnessed his passion as a certified chain saw operator, clearing trails for others as a volounteer with the Carolina Mountain Club.
"It's like im in there with nature seeing the physical world and I'm not stressed out about daily activities or what I need to do with my schedule," he said.
Rebecca Chaplain is a community outreach director with AARP.
"He's a great example of being physically active while he's also being socially engaged and connected to nature," she said.
Connecting to nature, she said, is known to reduce blood pressure.
"But also volunteering is said to reduce the incidence of heart disease," she said.
"Being a part of anything that gives them excitement, they're gonna increase their serotonin and increase their connectivity with the community," Chaplain explained.
Chaplain has spent here own career helping others after their working careers are over.
"Once you move beyond that stage of life making money, power, prestige, what are we really here for, we're here to give our gifts and to be our passion in the world," she said.
Mel's story of youthful vitality may inspire others to find their passion. Something that this 72-year-old's convinced can lead to a great second and third act.
Research shows older adults who donate their time have lower mortality rates, less depression, and higher self-esteem.
The AARP says one report found states with a high volunteer rate have lower incidences of heart disease.
A study by Johns Hopkins University shows volunteering has significant brain benefits for aging adults, because it gets you moving and thinking at the same time. For links to the study and more on volunteering in a field you love, CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE.