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Shopping 'helps you live longer'


Library Image. Photo: Getty Images

Library Image. Photo: Getty Images

Library Image. Photo: Getty Images

Perhaps it is not the news that hen-pecked husbands would want to hear.

But scientists believe that a daily trip to the shops could help you live longer.

A 10-year study of almost 2,000 people found that those who went to the shops more or less every day were about a quarter less likely to die over that period than the average person.

Researchers believe this could be because shopping is a convenient, enjoyable and sociable way of getting exercise.

They looked at the shopping habits of 1,850 people aged 65 and over, living at home without support, who had taken part in a national health survey.

Of those, 17 per cent shopped every day, 22 per cent between two and four times a week, 13 per cent once a week, and 48 per cent even less frequently.

Those who shopped daily were 27 per cent less likely than average to die over the study period, from 1999 to 2008.

And while almost every man has protested at one time or other that "being dragged around the shops is killing me", men appear to benefit from a daily dose of retail therapy more than women.

Female daily shoppers were 23 per cent less likely to die over the decade - but male daily shoppers were 28 per cent less likely to do so.

The study adjusted for factors known to have a significant effect on a person's health - and hence their chance of dying over a particular period - such as age, sex, and whether they smoked, drank, or took exercise.

The authors, from Taiwan's National Health Research Institutes, acknowledged that frequent shopping could simply be a sign of underlying better health, while infrequent shopping could be indicative of impaired mobility and general ill health.

However, in an article published today (THUR) in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, they suggest that frequent shopping might have "a direct impact on survival" too.

They write: "Shopping captures several dimensions of personal wellbeing, health, and security as well as contributing to the community's cohesiveness and economy, and may represent or actually confer increased longevity."

Much like teenagers hanging out in a shopping centre, they postulate that for the elderly frequent trips to the shops might not always be about shopping.

They might be about getting out to see one's friends or, indeed, taking a little light exercise too.

They argue: "Elderly people may window shop, obtain prescribed drugs, bank, or walk for exercise, seek companionship and avoid loneliness."

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."