Shop More, Live Longer?

Need an excuse to go shopping? How about this one? Recent research suggests it may actually be good for you.

Taiwanese researchers published a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health that states people who shop frequently may live longer than people who don't shop at all or shop infrequently. Researchers surveyed 2,000 Taiwanese senior citizens who lived independently about their shopping habits, health, finances, and other factors. About half of those surveyed said they didn't shop. Twenty-two percent shopped two to four times per week, and about 17 percent shopped every day. 

When researchers analyzed the data, they discovered the daily shoppers were healthier than the study participants who didn't shop frequently. They determined that elderly people who shopped every day have 27 percent less risk of death than the least frequent shoppers. And surprisingly, men reaped the most benefit from daily shopping. Their health risks were 28 percent lower, as compared to women who benefited with 23 percent fewer health risks.

Why does shopping help seniors stay healthy? Experts speculate that a combination of factors are involved. 

Exercise. Shopping involves walking and gentle physical activity. Even if you take the bus to the mall, you still get some exercise walking to and from your bus stop and up and down the store aisles. All exercise is beneficial and shown to improve health.

Mental stimulation. Shopping requires a lot of mental activity—navigation to the store, product observation and selection, price calculations, visual stimulation, conversation, and more. It keeps the brain cells busy processing new information.

Social connection. People who shop frequently get out among people often. They engage in conversation, enjoy people-watching, and may even make new friends. Shopping is social and as people age, their opportunities to socialize can be limited. The more they get out there, the less isolated and lonely they'll be. 

Fresher, better food. Daily shoppers were found to be more likely to pick up fresher, healthier food (including fresh fruits and veggies) on their daily treks. Access to nutritious food is closely linked to health and longevity.

Personal enjoyment. Shopping for something new iis a fun experience. Many people find it relaxing. Adding a joyful element to your day can only do the mind, body, and spirit good.  

Does this mean you should hit the mall and start shopping up a storm? Not quite. The benefits of shopping were more about the activity than the actual spending. You don't want to negate all those healthy shopping benefits by racking up big bills and financial-related stress.



Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health; Frequent shopping by men and women increases survival in the older Taiwanese population; April 6, 2011; Yu-Hung Chang, Rosalind Chia-Yu Chen, Mark L Wahlqvist, Meei-Shyuan Lee