You may think that popping down to the shops is a naughty treat, but scientists from Taiwan’s National Health Research Institutes believe that a daily trip to the store could in fact extend your life.
Scientists found that men and women who went shopping frequently tended to outlive those who went less often – even when other factors were taken into account, the Daily Mail (UK) reports.
A 10-year study of almost 2,000 people found that those who shopped every day were 27% less likely to die within the 10-year study period compared to those who never shopped, or who went shopping less than once a week.
The study, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, shows that older men were particularly likely to benefit from regular retail therapy, with a 28% reduction in mortality risk compared to 23% for women.
“Shopping captures several dimensions of personal well-being, health and security as well as contributing to the community’s cohesiveness and economy, and may represent or actually confer increased longevity,” write researchers led by Dr Yu-Hung Chang at the National Health Research Institutes, in Zhunan, Taiwan.
The researchers analysed responses from nearly 1850 Taiwanese people aged 65 or over who were surveyed on their health and lifestyles in 1999/2000, and matched them to deaths recorded between 1999 and 2008.
Participants were asked how often they went shopping, with options ranging from “never” – selected by 48% of respondents – to “every day”, chosen by 17%.
The research was conducted by members of the Institute of Population Health Sciences and National Defense Medical Center in Taiwan, and the Asia Pacific Health and Nutrition Centre in Australia
The intellectual and physical capacities, age, gender, education, ethnicity, financial and employment status, lifestyle factors and the prevalence of long-term conditions among respondants were also factored in.
The authors of the study acknowledged that shopping could reflect people having good health to begin with. They said: “An elder who shops less for food would be at risk of poorer diet quality necessary to maintain health. A vicious cycle that involves limited shopping and poor diet could evolve for elders.”
However, the authors added: “Everyday shoppers had a favourable survival even with control for functional health. It is possible that daily shopping might have a direct impact on survival.”
They said that health benefits might be generated through frequent shopping activity in many ways and that purchasing things was not necessarily the main purpose of shopping. Shopping could provide companionship and a form of exercise that required less motivation than formal exercise.
“Elders may maintain a mall-walking routine, perhaps regarded as shopping activity, although more to do with the need to belong to a community or keep physically active in a safe and convenient environment,” the authors said.
“In shopping venues, socialising with or watching others can provide social and mental benefits. Loneliness may be ameliorated through relationships away from home in commercial venues that nevertheless provide opportunities for companionship and emotional support.”
Maureen Hinton, lead analyst at Verdict, a London retail consultancy, thought the study made sense. She said: “By shopping daily, you are having a regular connection with the community, even if it’s just with your local shop keeper.”
But what exactly was it about shopping that helped prolong lives, she asked. “I wonder if it’s the exercise – or the enjoyment of buying things,” she added.
So, Ladies, whether it’s the daily exercise that adds to your lifespan, or the sheer enjoyment of buying things, you now have the perfect excuse to pop to the shops. [via The Telegraph (UK), Daily Mail (UK) and Marie Claire]