Shopping 'may improve health'

Shopping Shopping may offer exercise and companionship

Related Stories

Shopping prolongs life, at least for the over 65s in Taiwan, according to research.

Even after adjusting for factors like physical and mental infirmity, men and women who shopped daily lived longer than those who shunned retail therapy, say scientists.

Shopping may provide companionship, exercise and an opportunity to maintain a healthy diet, they report in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

A leading UK expert said the findings "made sense" since shopping involves physical activity, social interaction and keeping mentally active.

In the study, published online in the academic journal, researchers led by Dr Yu-Hung Chang of the Institute of Population Health Sciences, Taiwan, studied nearly 2,000 men and women aged 65 and over who lived in their own homes.

They found those who shopped regularly lived longer than those who shopped just once a week or less, even after adjusting for factors such as physical limitations and cognitive decline.

The data

  • Taiwanese researchers studied 1,850 people aged 65 plus
  • All were living independently at home
  • During a survey in 1999-2000 they were asked how often they went shopping
  • The team tracked how long they lived by linking individuals to national death registries between 1999 and 2008
  • Those who shopped daily were 27% less likely to die than those who shopped infrequently, with the biggest effect seen in men

They acknowledge that shopping could be a marker for those in good health to begin with, but suggest shopping itself may improve health.

"Shopping is often for pleasure with the potential to increase psychological wellbeing," they conclude.

"Compared to other types of leisure-time physical activity, like formal exercise, which usually requires motivation and sometimes professional instruction, shopping activity is easier to undertake and maintain."

David Oliver, visiting professor of medicine for older people at City University, London, said the findings "made sense".

He told the BBC: "What the Taiwanese researchers have shown is that continuing to shop is independently predictive of better well-being and longer life.

"Shopping is going to involve physical activity, social interaction with other shoppers and because it's quite a complex task it's going to keep you mentally active.

"It makes sense that it would be a predictor of better physical and psychological well-being."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    The important word is "may". Shopping would not improve my health. I only do it if absolutely necessary. i did enjoy it as a child, watching the assistant measure out tea and sugar and helping my mother decide which biscuits to buy ,but not since the do all the work yourself culture took over. I cannot think of anything more boring than shopping every day and what a waste of precious time!

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Equally, older people who are physically able to shop every day are more likely to be in good shape, and as a result more likely to live longer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Surely people who can afford to shop every day are going to live longer than those who can't? Richer people tend to have better quality of life, access to healthcare and education, all of which seem to contribute to longevity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Anything that gives you a sense of enjoyment, achievement and/or increased social interaction will increase your sense of wellbeing - so if shopping does that, then it will be of benefit. If it doesn't give you any of these things, then it won't but the increased physical activity associated with it will help in any case.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    How can anger, increased blood pressure, frustration and sheer disgust at human nature increase life expectancy? My idea of hell is being dumped in the middle of the Trafford Centre and being expected to fight my way out. The only type of shopping I can just about stomach is the online variety and that's touch and go depending on the speed of the itnernet...


Comments 5 of 6


More Health stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.