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It’s true: Retail shopping can help you live longer.

I expect to be flavour of the month with a number of my girl friends after today’s blog.
A study has been published in the Journal of Epidemiological and Community Health reporting that doing a little retail shopping is good for our health and actually helps us to live longer.
Women have long known the importance of retail therapy as a way of rewarding ourselves when we feel we deserve it, or as a pick-me-up if things haven’t been going quite so well.

But before you reach for your credit card and head out the door, the benefit is greatest to………. older men.

Sorry girls, you weren’t expecting that one were you?

Why should this be?

Shopping is done for a number of reasons. We need to buy food and goods for the household. Many people love shopping, spending countless hours examining different goods for sale, and if you are into clothes shopping, then trying on different outfits and finding something really nice can definitely be therapeutic.

But there is something else going on as well. When we go out to shop, we engage with other people, whether it is with other shoppers or the staff in the shops.

Shopping even provides some of us with some much-needed exercise. If you ever go to some of the newer shopping centres, you can easily walk a couple of kilometres up and down those malls.

My husband hates shopping, especially for clothes. He would rather have all his toenails ripped out one by one, unless of course it’s a hardware store, which sells lots of boy’s stuff that he likes.

Socialisation is crucial for brain fitness.

So while I am not advocating loading up your credit card, paying for things that you actually can’t afford, the simple activity of going out regularly provides us with the opportunity

• to be out buying fresh food, and thereby eating a healthier diet which is better for our body and brain,
• for talking and interacting with other people which is good as a mental activity and for maintaining social and communication skills.
• for getting out of the house and moving our body.

All of these points are particularly relevant for those people who live on their own and may not have family near by to keep an eye on them.

In the study, 1850 elderly (65 yrs and older) independent Taiwanese were surveyed by questionnaire and then tracked for their longevity between 1999 and 2008. Various factors were taken into consideration such as age, gender, financial status, life-style and general health. It was found that the younger members of the group shopped most often.
48% either never did their own shopping or did so infrequently. Another 22% shopped between x2 and x4 a week, 13% shopped once a week and 17% shopped every day.
Of those who shopped daily, that group tended to live longer than the more infrequent shoppers. And the male shoppers were 28% less likely to die compared to the women at 23%.

Never mind girls, we can still ensure we get lots of practice in over the course of our lifespan.

Y.-H. Chang, R. C.-Y. Chen, M. L. Wahlqvist, M.-S. Lee. Frequent shopping by men and women increases survival in the older Taiwanese population. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 2011; DOI: 10.1136/jech.2010.126698

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