If the findings of a new study are anything to go by then retail therapy really is good for you. A day at the shops can help you live longer, finds an intriguing new study.

According to experts, seeing friends and just having lots of social contact, can stave off loneliness and improve psychological health which is strongly linked with overall well-being.

Researcher Janine Wiles from the University of Auckland looked at almost 2000 elderly people living in Taiwan. As a part of the study they were asked how often they went shopping. They found individuals who shopped daily lived longer than those who opened their wallets less frequently, even after taking account of people’s physical or other health problems.

According to Wiles, shopping trips not only keeps the elders preoccupied but also adds some sense of purpose to their lives. Window shopping, watching others in shopping avenues and occasional social interaction during a shopping spree has a de-stressing effect and make one’s day. Retail therapy has an ability to instantly enhance our moods – whether we end up buying stuff or not.

The most obvious reason for a longer lifespan is of course that one gets a lot of physical exercise. Juliana Mansvelt, a lecturer at Massey University, said walking from store to store provides the much needed physical activity.

Unlike formal exercise which requires motivation and professional instruction, shopping is easier to undertake and maintain. While out shopping without realizing, people are inclined to walk more than they would if they stayed home. Evidently, as you age even a little physical exercise slashes the risks of obesity and other health issues.

An earlier research this year found that even when driving to and fro between stores, Aucklanders tend to walk for almost a kilometre during their weekly shopping trip to a supermarket and pharmacy.

Mansvelt stated, “And shopping is not the same as a purchase – a number of older people talk about the pleasure they feel in finding bargains. They may ring up their children and say there’s a special on butter this week.”

The findings are published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

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